It’s always amazed me how preoccupied people are with Americans during these drone debates. Over two years ago I asked “who cares if al Awlaki was a citizen?”
Robert Higgs makes the same point on facebook:
“The discussion related to Sen. Rand Paul’s recent filibuster seems in nearly every case to be premised on a misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution, the ostensible basis for any powers the president or his subordinates may lawfully exercise. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment states, “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This provision obviously prohibits the president or anyone else in the government from peremptorily killing anyone without due process of law. Note that this part of the Bill of Rights, like all of the others, does not apply only to U.S. citizens or, as Sen. Paul and others repeatedly put it, to “American citizens on U.S. soil.” The Bill of Rights constrains the government across the board and provides areas in which all persons subject to its authority are to have freedom of action — or, at least, it purports to do so. Nothing in these provisions restricts them to U.S. citizens.”
Whatever you think “due process” defensibly means when it comes to dealing with an enemy combatant (I don’t think it means bringing them in front of a court – it never has meant that unless of course hostilities are over, in which case they’re not a combatant anymore), you need to apply these principles to citizens and non-citizens alike. No special priveleges for Americans. We believe due process is a human right.
This constant reference to Americans and al-Awlaki is more emotional/national appeal than argument.
This is what I wrote two years ago:
“Who cares if al-Awlaki was an American?
He was a person.
And in my government class, we were taught that the use of the word “person” in the Constitution was deliberate. The fifth amendment refers to “persons”. Other portions refer to “citizens”. I don’t understand the contrast between the killing of al-Awlaki and the killing of bin Laden and it’s disconcerting to me that people think rights like due process only matter for citizens. That should be disconcerting for you too.
Due process is of course dependent on circumstance. Due process on the battlefield is different from due process regarding prisoners of war. Due process for a criminal pointing a gun at a cop is different from due process for a criminal in hand-cuffs. Who the hell cares about “citizenship”. Due process is a right that attaches to persons.
I don’t personally know the ins and outs of combatants vs. soldiers, etc. But I do know one thing – I don’t see this killing of al-Awlaki as any different from the killing of bin Laden. But I’m bothered by the fact that (1.) some people seem to think that non-citizens somehow ought to be treated differently when it comes to the rights of persons, and that seems dangerous, (2.) people are talking about totalitarianism with regards to this, which to me trivializes totalitarianism, and (3.) that people still talk as if radical Islamic terrorism is a criminal issue is really baffling to me.”
First time I’ve seen a libertarian make a point of this w.r.t. Paul’s filibuster
Fri, 08 Mar 2013 18:21:00 GMT