Moral Outrage
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The Lack of Outrage Over the Murder of a US Citizen

A U.S. citizen is dead and the U.S. government killed him. Without trial. Without due process. Without hesitation. And many of those who loudly deplored George W. Bush for smaller excesses seem content to allow Barack Obama this larger one.

[Regardless of whether one mourns] the death of Anwar al-Awlaki … the means of his dispatch from this world ought to give us pause.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech in which he attempted to justify what the administration did. His reasoning was not compelling. In Holder’s formulation, the U.S. government has the right to kill citizens if said citizens present an imminent threat of violent attack and if capturing them alive is not a feasible option.

It can do this, said Holder, without judicial oversight. “Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process; it does not guarantee judicial process.”

What a flimsy rationale upon which to balance a decision as monumental and portentous as the killing of a citizen. Even granting that the demands of armed conflict sometimes make such things necessary, it is inconceivable that the White House would claim the right to kill without at least presenting its evidence before a federal judge in a secret hearing.

A president’s oath of office requires him to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

So where is the outrage? The principle at stake here is bigger than any one person’s term in office.

[Excerpt of article by Leonard Pitts Jr, Miami Herald]

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