front-page-news drone strike. Before people try to justify the killing by asserting that al-Awlaki's son was not "innocent," be reminded that had the U.S. given al-Awlaki's son his constitutionally-guaranteed right to due process, he would have had a criminal trial and been presumed innocent until proven guilty. But we've reversed the usual presumption.The U.S. killed Anwar al-Awlaki's innocent American son like they killed al-Awlaki: without trial, without due process, and using a highly-classified but
Al-Awlaki's family is speaking out about the U.S. killing another American member of their family. Al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was born in Denver. His family has set up a memorial Facebook page, WaPo reported:
The pictures on the Facebook page show a smiling kid out and about in the countryside and occasionally hamming it up for the camera.
In a still secret – yet described in detail in the New York Times – memo, the Justice Department justified assassinating American citizen al-Awlaki despite the myriad laws and the Constitution such a killing would violate. As New York Times journalist Charlie Savage pointed out, there exists
an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law [that prohibits Americans from murdering other Americans abroad], protections in the Bill of Rights [the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee that a “person” cannot be seized by the government unreasonably, and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee that the government may not deprive a person of life “without due process of law”], and various strictures of the international laws of war...
The Justice Department has refused to release the secret memo despite calls from major media outlets and a FOIA request from GAP, but has assured us that the justification for killing an American was for al-Awlaki only, and did not set a precedent. But now we are sliding down the slippery slope. The U.S. killed American Samir Khan – the publisher of the controversial magazine Inspire (clearly First Amendment activity) along with al-Awlaki and now,
The U.S. was strategic in beginning to assassinate citizens with al-Awlaki – a loathsome person who supported abhorrent and evil acts. When someone dies who will not be missed, the outcry is muted at best. But now we have taken to killing American teenagers without due process, an action the U.S. Supreme Court could not take even if al-Awlaki's son had a full criminal trial. The Supreme Court held in Roper v. Simmons that even after a suspect receives due process in court – something al-Awlaki and his son were secretly and summarily denied – using the death penalty on juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment that violates the Constitution.
Speaking of the Supreme Court, the Court weighed in on the rights of American citizens labeled "belligerents" and has held that they must receive some measure of due process. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Justice Sandra Day O-Connor eloquently explained:
. . . a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens...
As for an explanation from the U.S. as to why al-Awlaki's father lost his son and grandson: reports indicate that al-Awlaki's son was collateral damage in the deadly drone strike on Friday that killed at least nine people, but – as usual – secrecy still surrounds the strike:
U.S. officials said they were still assessing the results of the strike Monday evening to determine who was killed. The officials would not discuss the attack in any detail, including who the target was . . .
Jesselyn Radack is National Security and Human Rights Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.