Reality Check: The President's Power To Execute Citizens
Only days after killing Osama bin Laden, U.S. forces take a shot at another high profile terrorist this time in Yemen.
On Friday, a U.S. predator drones attempted to take out the leader of Al Queda in the Arabian Peninsula, radical Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, The U.S. missed. But the question here, does the President have the right to order the death of this man?
Author Brigitte Gabriel spoke with Fox's Neil Cavuto about the threat of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
"It's not coming out of Al Qaeda the way we used to think about the Al Qaeda that carried out the September 11th attack." says Gabriel.
So who exactly is Anwar al-Alawki? He is believed to have influenced the underwear bomber who tried to blow up an airliner in Detroit on Christmas Day...
He also reportedly, influenced Major Nadal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter.
The problem with taking this guy out is that al-Awlaki is a U.S. citizen.
He was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico when his father was studying at New Mexico State University.
His family stayed in the U.S. until al Awlaki was 7 years-old. That is when his family returned to Yemen.
So to the question, does President Obama or any U.S. President have the authority to order the execution of a U.S. citizen?
Anwar al-Alawki's father went to court last year to keep the... President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of the CIA, from 'intentionally killing U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki outside an armed conflict unless he is found to present a concrete, specific, and imminent threat to life or physical safety, and there are no means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize the threat."
The idea here is that as a citizen, al-Awlaki is protected by the U.S. Constitution's 5th Amendment... which states that:
"...no person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."
Al-Awlaki has not been charged by a grand jury with any crime. He has not been given a trial. He has not been sentenced for a crime.
Here's what you need to know.
There should be a loud debate over whether the President of the United States has the authority to unilaterally order the execution of any citizen.
The President's lawyers argue that "enforcing an injunction requiring military and intelligence judgments to conform to such general criteria...would necessarily limit and inhibit the president and his advisors from acting to protect the American people."
The short answer, the President says he's a terrorist, so his lawyers say, that should be good enough.
Anwar al-Awlaki may not be safe today, but if the President can unilaterally declare anyone an enemy of the state without having any burden of proof... then no American is safe.