The Assassin

I have absolutely no reservations about killing a legitimate threat to our country’s safety. Terrorists who are plotting to carry out acts of destruction against the US are fair game for assassination. The act of assassination, though, stands at the extreme end of defensible acts against another human being. Thus it rates more of a moral and legal defense than President Obama seems willing to give in the case of Anwar al-Awaki.

No one with a shred of sense believes that there is never a case in which state secrets are legitimate. For reasons of public safety or the protection of troops, military secrets must be kept. Yet the veil that shields the public from troop movements or enemy targets must not be used to hide questionable cases from public scrutiny. This Obama appears to have done with his authorization to assassinate al-Awaki.

al-Awaki was a US citizen. I do not presume to render a weighty legal opinion on this matter as I am not an attorney, but I do presume to know when someone wants to hide something for dishonorable reasons. Doing in an American without offering legal and moral justification to the public smacks of an Imperial Presidency.

This President may come from the Far Left, but he conducts himself like a self-righteous Right Winger with his finger on the trigger. The public deserves to know why his advisors were so uniformly of the opinion that the assassination was justified. If his reasons are good, we can all choose to agree or disagree and set about clarifying what we allow our Presidents to do in the future. As it is, we have a clear precedent with a muddy justification.

It is really not so ironic that Obama behaves this way. His sensibilities about government drip with arrogance and condescension. His answer to opposition is not sincere negotiation, but disbelief that principled people can see things any other way than his. He is not a bundle of contradictions, but a package of piousness. He is a weak, foolish, and hyper-sensitive to criticism–not the kind of guy you want making calls like this.

Anwar al-Awaki probably was scum, as are all fanatics who carry out murder in the name of a holy cause. However, he, as any other American citizen, cannot be singled out by a President for elimination just because. We need to know what was in the memo justifying the mission and we need to know it now.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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