Ya Got Trouble, Folks!

by Norman Horowitz

Ya got trouble, folks, right here in River City
With a capital ‘T’ and that rhymes with ‘P’
And that stands for ‘pool’

— The Music Man

I know it’s an arcane notion that we are, in theory, a nation of laws.

Due process, to name but one, is guaranteed under the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…

And the Fourteenth Amendment:

No State shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Due process generally requires fairness in government proceedings. A person is entitled to notice and opportunity to be heard at a hearing when they have life, liberty, or property at stake.  

For the longest time, we have allowed our leadership to justify our violations of due process — or at least rationalize them — when we wished to capture, torture, or kill whomever we wished to capture, torture, or kill.

Remember, for example, the Bush era “rendition,” when the President ordered “the abduction and illegal transfer” of suspects from the United States to another nation to “torture by proxy.”

And now President Obama joins the list of U.S. Presidents who “did stuff like this” by killing Anwar al-Awlaki (an American) in Yemen.  Al-Awlaki’s Internet lectures and sermons have been linked to more than a dozen terrorist investigations in the United States, Britain, and Canada.

This apparently is the first time in the War on Terrorism that an American citizen has been deliberately killed by American forces.

While I expect that he was indeed a very “bad and dangerous” person, I wonder why it is considered okay for our forces to kill him without due process. I’m also appalled that many people consider it okay to kill a foreign citizen and not okay to kill an American.

Can the feds designate anyone as a “bad guy” and just kill them if they are hiding in Yemen — or, for that matter, in Yonkers?

Do we now have a policy that allows us to kill anyone suspected of being a “bad guy”?

I certainly hope not.