I am writing this letter to you out of the horrific news I have seen lately and about the constitutional crisis that is looming as a result of this if left unchecked. An article from the New York Times has documented the United States government and specifically the Obama administration has given out a mob hit order (for lack of a better term) to Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen. The article is available here for your perusal: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/world/middleeast/07yemen.html
The news article does not mention al-Awlaki ever receiving a fair trial within the court system of the United States of America, which is a severe violation of the constitution if this is the case. This is a flagrant violation of Amendment V, which guarantees he cannot be deprived of his life without due process of law. American citizens are guaranteed the right to a fair trial. How are we a nation of laws if we choose to willfully ignore the law when it is convenient?
This is also very similar to what is called a “Bill of Attainder” which is a specific power barred from Congress via Article I, Section IX to the Constitution but little is mentioned about the executive branch using such a bill. From what I have studied within the text of the Constitution, this power is not specifically barred from the executive branch of the government. However, in keeping with the spirit of the US Constitution, I would surmise that the President also lacks the power to create a Bill of Attainder also since it was assumed the President would be the executive in charge of administrating the laws of the land.
There is a serious crisis looming if the United States government thinks it is able to do whatever it wants. American citizens cannot be treated like this, regardless of whether or not he is branded as a terrorist. He may pose an imminent threat to the nation, but we as a country should not go down the route of mob hits. To go down this route is little more than resorting to terrorism to try and stop terrorism.
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