Some in our government are claiming that U.S.-born anti-American Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in self defense by a C.I.A.-operated drone; they expect us to buy the nonsense that America, a huge and powerful nation was so terrified of this man's jihadist tongue that it had to take him out as soon as an opportunity presented itself.
Our government colluded with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a corrupt dictator loathed by his own people, to accomplish this assassination of a U.S. citizen in a nation with which we are not at war. President Saleh, acting as a proxy for the Americans, has been lying to his people that it is the Yemeni army that has been pursuing and killing the terrorists, and now he wants to extend his tyranny further by posing as an indispensable ally in America's endless war on terror. And he may actually succeed, given the Obama administration's inconsistent and self-serving response to the Arab Spring.
George W. Bush waged a preemptive war. Now President Obama is waging preemptive killings, and American citizens, it seems, are not exempt as targets. Granted, the Constitution is not a suicide pact, and we have a right to defend ourselves. But an American citizen should not be targeted for killing because his rants may have inspired some al-Qaida wannabes.
If al-Awlaki committed treason by giving aid and comfort to America's enemies, he should have been arrested, charged and tried according to the U.S. Constitution.. The same information that Mr. Saleh, the dictator, helped provide for the drone attack could have been used to arrest al-Awlaki. Clearly, the aim from the start was to kill, not capture him.
Mr. Obama came to power deploring the Bush tactics of torture, extraordinary rendition and the preemptive, perpetual incarceration of terror suspects at Guantanamo. His administration trivialized terrorists as no more than criminals who should be put on trial in the federal courts, which were more than capable of dispensing justice while giving the accused a fair chance to defend themselves. What happened between now and then?
What happened is that pure politics, and Mr. Obama's electoral ambition reared its Hydra head. President Obama has been intent on showing his brawn to Republican critics. He was clearly buoyed by the Osama bin Laden killing, and other targeted killings in Pakistan have followed. The attacks have killed civilians and earned us the enmity of the very people we are trying to befriend. The targeted assassinations are also a handy ploy to divert and distract recession-weary Americans.
It is time for the president to stop his intoxicating killing spree and return us to the sanity of his original vision of a country nobler than its enemies and prepared to work under the constraints of our Constitution and international laws, even when under threat.
Usha Nellore, Bel Air