Paul Greenberg

"I told him that I thought it was law logic -- an artificial system of reasoning, exclusively used in courts of justice, but good for nothing anywhere else."

-- John Quincy Adams

We live in strange times. Aren't they all? But much like Tolstoy's unhappy families, each strange time is strange in its own peculiar way. And most peculiar, at least this week, may be the little legal brouhaha that some of our fellow Americans -- learned citizens all, maybe too learned -- are trying to raise in the midst of the general acclaim for the latest accomplishment of the armed forces of the United States.

In another victory-by-drone, the armed forces of the United States took out al-Qaida's chief of operations in Yemen and points north on the Arabian peninsula. This achievement was a twofer, for it also eliminated one of his trusted lieutenants. Both were technically Americans. By birth if not by loyalty.

Mission accomplished. How soul-satisfying, like justice itself, to pronounce that old formula with no sense of irony. For there is little doubt -- indeed, no doubt -- that these latest enemies of the United States of America to be blown to kingdom come were enemies of the United States of America.

Nor is there much doubt, or any at all, that these two enemy targets were fully covered by the various resolutions passed by Congress in the wake of the surprise attacks on this country September 11, 2001. And by a line of court decisions upholding the authority of the president and commander-in-chief. Not to mention the demands of simple justice and common sense. Here is another instance in which Mr. Adams' spurious law-logic should not be confused with the real thing.

THE EXTENSIVE LIST of the now late Anwar al-Awlaki's war crimes wouldn't be easy to summarize, but the president and commander-in-chief made a valiant effort when he announced this latest American victory in the war on terror/overseas contingency operations.

This time Barack Obama indulged in no unconvincing euphemisms, but just condensed the criminal dossier on Mr. al-Awlaki to a brief paragraph or two, making it clear that the, uh, gentleman deserved just what he got, if not more. To quote the president at his news conference on this latest accomplishment of the forces under his command:

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.