It’s Kill Or Be Killed – There’s No Two Ways About It
It’s Kill Or Be Killed – There’s No Two Ways About It
Commentary by Dell Hill
In March 2009 the US Defense Department – under direct orders from President Barack Obama – officially changed the name of the "Global War on Terror" to "Overseas Contingency Operation". The name change is little known to most and has never been used on a regular basis to describe our efforts to combat terrorism on a global scale. Ask a thousand people what it’s called and 999 of them will say “the war on terror”.
It was back on September 20, 2001, during a televised address to a joint session of congress that President George W. Bush launched the war on terror when he said, "Our ‘war on terror’ begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated." President Obama has rarely used the term, but in his inaugural address on January 20, 2009, he stated "Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."
Bush may have declared war on terrorism, but Obama has actually escalated a critical segment of that war – the outright search for and killing of any person shown to be a sworn enemy of the United States and bent on harm to her people. And, as we all know, those operations have included American citizens – the latest being Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a hellfire missile strike from a Predator Drone aircraft in Yemen.
Critics of this action are numerous and vocal, as expected. Constitutional Rights activists, in particular, call such killings “assassination of American citizens without due process under the law”. They’re quick to point out US and International law (whatever International law is…or is supposed to be) which clearly defines due process as dictated by the US Constitution. What these critics are saying, in effect, is that terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki would have to succeed in some heinous criminal activity – like killing 3,000 people on 9-11-01 – and then somehow be captured, extradited to the United States and put through the so-called criminal justice system and determined to be guilty before any punitive action can be taken against them.
That’s an extremely righteous political position to take and as wrong-headed as it could possibly be. These terrorists – including those who are American citizens – have “taken up arms” against the United States and, as such, are traitors. Their ongoing plans and actions to do harm to Americans anywhere and everywhere in the world makes them instantly enemy combatants and, therefore, subject to capture or killing on sight.
It has become a matter of killing them before they kill us – just as it is in conventional warfare. And as long as US intelligence sources have sufficient probable cause to believe they are preparing to act against Americans and American interests, these same terrorists should continue to be neutralized in any reasonable fashion. We don’t exactly have the luxury of time to conduct an arrest, arraignment, probable cause hearing, discovery, status conferences, jury drawing and a six month trial to determine whether or not an declared enemy should or should not be brought to justice. Their words and actions are a declaration of war against America and have instantly elevated them to the possibility of dying on the battlefield at any given moment.
I am not concerned in the slightest about President Obama electing to have American citizens killed by Predator drones for no reason what-so-ever. The individuals involved are publicly sworn enemies of the United States and each of those enemies is positioned on a master list of terrorists with the clear intent to kill American people and do substantial harm to the homeland. They do so at the risk of preemptive strikes such as the ones that took out Bin Laden and al-Awlaki, just as they would be if they were uniformed soldiers fighting in conformity with the Geneva Conventions.
The President of the United States is sworn to defend this country against “all enemies, foreign and domestic”. President Bush did so. President Obama continues to do so and I pray that every president who swears to that oath will continue to do so.
The global war on terror is just that – a war, and the enemy must be defeated.
Your article is well written but I have to say the judicial action is needed, but only if we claim to be a constitutional state. You see that law, judges and due process have been deprecated and it its pace is ” US intelligence sources” which in fact becomes the highest law of the land.
“And as long as US intelligence sources have sufficient probable cause to believe they are preparing to act against Americans and American interests, these same terrorists should continue to be neutralized in any reasonable fashion. ”
The slippery slope never disappoints us in all history. When you start killing Americans (clearly bad guys) and you add to this secrecy, and you add to this no crimes need be committed, then the net becomes wider.
It’s really the bullshit claim that we are a constitutional state, (the law applies to the government too). If we are not then we should say so. Just say it, our constitution does not apply to the government and we are not a people of the law.
Ron and DJ,
There is a fine line between law that applies to U.S. citizens who take up arms against the United States, and law that applies to foreign enemy combatants.
The American civil war is a great example of this. The majority of soldiers in the confederate were U.S. citizens during the war, they did denounce citizenship since they were just as American as everyone else. They were fighting for states rights. Yet, did Lincoln think twice about killing them? Not at all.
Any citizen who takes up arms against the United States, and acts on it, is a target. There is no slippery slope here. It’s as cut and dry as beef jerky.
EDIT above… “they did NOT denounce citizenship….
Ron, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Your chosen words lend themselves to constructive discussion, rather than hammer-throwing ad hominem and we like that.
I suspect your major point of contention – combined with mine – may get to the crux of the matter. On the one hand, our Constitution requires the president to defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The Bill of Rights – specifically the fourth and fifth amendments – provide for due process under the law for all American citizens. What we’re seeing is one requirement being exercised at the expense of the other, and it will – at some point, I’m sure – be up to the Supreme Court to decide if defending the country outweighs individual rights. I firmly believe the court will rule in the government’s favor because the alternative would result in chaos.
I certainly agree Ron, a nation that does not abide by a it’s laws becomes a lawless nation that will self-destruct eventually. I just wrote an article at CDN, that describes my view that these two terrorists were never in fact, Americans by any definition. They were anti-American terrorists hell bent on promoting the killing of Americans and other westerners, and therefore they were dealt with as any enemy combatants should be… they were neutralized. al-Awlaki, while being born in America, was taken at 7 years of age back to Yemen and in fact came back into the U.S 11 yrs later as a foreign student on a visa as a Yemeni citizen. Check it out:
I do agree with the slippery slope anology, but at the root of the debate as to whether the gov’t had the right to kill him, we must consider the fact that al-Awlaki declared jihad against America and all non-believers of the western world, and to just declare him an American by birth documents as a way to try to defend his waging war against America is problematic, to say the least.
“[A]s long as US intelligence sources have sufficient probable cause to believe they are preparing to act against Americans and American interests, these same terrorists should continue to be neutralized in any reasonable fashion.” Sounds right to me. The truth is, American citizens get killed by the American gov’t all the time “without due process.” Happens every time some dirtbag takes a hostage and a SWAT team decides the guy needs to be put down. Yes, yes, you can always argue, “But, Al-Awlaki didn’t have a gun trained on anyone!” Really? You sure of that? We don’t even know where these guys are hiding most of the time, we don’t know what stage their plans are at, or how many Americans they plan to kill, but you can tell me he wasn’t about to pull the trigger on an attack? Fortunately, most people still live in the real, practical world, where a stated desire to kill Americans and a record of past attempts to do so is reason enough to take the bastard out. I support President Obama 100% on this, as do most Americans. I only wish I could believe that all the Americans who agree with me — who support Predator strikes on known overseas terrorists — will continue to support such actions if and when the President’s name is “Perry” or “Romney” or “Cain” or “Bachman”. I wish I could believe liberals would support such an action as I support President Obama’s action, but on this score, I have grave, grave doubts.
As I stated, enemy combatants are,IMO, open season 24/7, no trial, no B/S, war is hell and if you wage war on America you invite the same fiery death as those two terrorists got here. I was trying to make the distinction that the media has made a point to call these mutts “Americans.” That is an insult to every true American who ever had the privilege of calling America home, and living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.