In 2010, a federal judge rejected an ACLU lawsuit filed on Awlaki's behalf. The judge said the judiciary had no business intruding into targeting decisions made by the duly elected executive branch. If Awlaki desired American legal protections, he could turn himself in.
Awlaki belonged to an organization at war with the U.S. He took pride in waging war on the U.S. He helped plan terror attacks. In the U.S. Civil War, Union soldiers didn't need a warrant to arrest or kill a Confederate belligerent, just a rifle. Awlaki was a rebel and a traitor. In sum, a nation fighting a war has the right to kill its enemies, and Awlaki was a dedicated enemy.
Last week, a Predator killed Awlaki -- in Yemen.
The ACLU and other lawfare-trumps-warfare organizations, however, remain in an activist tizzy. Why? Many lawfare advocates still don't believe America is engaged in a war; they believe it is an anti-crime action. President Obama himself encouraged this notion when he was Candidate Obama, but the sobering effects of executive responsibility have taught him otherwise.
Extremists in the lawfare mob believe the great courtroom in their minds really does regulate Earth's dark alleys, anarchic hells and chaotic battlefields. Narcissism or solipsism? Let's leave diagnosis to their shrinks.
In practice, the lawfare extremists behave like religious cultists pursuing a litigated utopia. Extremists in some international human rights organizations argue that Predator strikes themselves violate international law; drone strikes "blur" and violate "applicable legal rules." Defending Awlaki is thus a means of restricting use of the weapons with the goal of eliminating them.
In other words, these pillars of black-letter sanctimony would deny the civilized -- that's us -- the benefit of surprise in our long war on barbarians who recognize no rules.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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