As you already know, alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed by a Predator drone strike in Yemen. A lot of people who should know better are cheering for his death.
The most common reaction seems to be “Good riddance, he was a scumbag.”
I don’t know if he was a scumbag or not. Frankly I don’t give a shit. Besides, being a scumbag isn’t a crime.
I believe in the rule of law. The law says he was entitled to due process. The 5th Amendment to the Constitution says:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Anwar al-Awlaki was not charged with any crime. He wasn’t a fugitive from justice. He wasn’t killed fleeing or resisting arrest. The government has not even made a specific allegation of a capital crime.
I don’t mourn the death of Anwar al-Awlaki. I mourn the death of the rule of law.
“If the law protects a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you.” – Larry Flynt