Execution of al-Awaki:

The Obama Administration has increased the use of killer drones in lieu of putting the country’s boots on the ground. In one of the most debatable issues, the Obama Administration killed, Anwar al-Awaki, a , in 2011. The suspected al-Qaeda member had been accused of being a significant organizer in various terrorist attacks, and was identified as one of the . The controversy associated with this murder is attributed to whether the Obama Administration had the right to sanction the execution of the suspect without a court trial. This issue is further complicated with various set of factors that surround the case including the fact that al-Awaki was an American citizen before his death. As an American citizen, he was granted due process rights by the U.S. Constitution. According to the provisions of the due process, a suspect has the right to a trial before an unjust judge and jury and access to a lawyer. The main controversy surrounding the issue is that al-Awaki was not granted these rights before the Yemen attack that resulted in his death.

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Obama’s Authorization of the Execution of al-Awaki:

President Obama took an extraordinary step in authorizing the targeted murder of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awaki who was a radical Muslim cleric. According to intelligence and counter-terrorism officials, the suspect is believed to have moved from encouraging attacks on America to directly engaging in them. The suspect was born in New Mexico and spent his early years in America as an imam before going to hide in Yemen (Shane, 2010). As a result, al-Awaki had been the focus of strong scrutiny because of his links to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

While al-Awaki is believed to have become a recruiter for the al-Qaeda terrorist network, it’s very rare and unprecedented for an American citizen to be approved for targeted killing. Based on a former senior legal official in the Bush Administration, President Bush did not authorize for targeted murder of any American citizen. However, the direction of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, stated that permission is granted for the killing of an American as part of direct actions against terrorists. al-Awaki’s killing is supported on the basis that the United States government acts as its citizens expect, especially in overcoming threats to homeland security. The suspect was a threat to the country’s homeland security since he posed a danger that was no longer confined in words.

The other major aspect that has been used in support of the killing of al-Awaki is the fact that international law allows the use of fatal force against people and groups that pose a forthcoming danger to a country. Therefore, this provision of international law is the standard with which names are added to the list of targets. For instance, when the U.S. Congress authorized the use of military force against al-Qaeda after 9/11 attacks, individuals on the list of target were considered to be military enemies of America and were not subject to prohibition on political assassination. While the military and the CIA maintain lists of terrorists linked to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the inclusion of al-Awaki on the list was authorized by the National Security Council.

According to a secret U.S. memo that legalized the case to kill a citizen without a trial, justifications are made to carry out such acts regardless of an executive order that prohibits assassinations. While the memo was geared towards the specifics of Mr. Awaki, it did not establish a wide new legal doctrine to allow the targeted killing on any Americans believed to cause a terrorist threat (Savage, 2011). However, President Obama did not have power to authorize the execution of al-Awaki since it’s entirely illegal. Based on the provisions of the Fifth Amendment, an individual should not be deprived of the right to life, property, and liberty without due process of law. The use of predator drone in the killing of al-Awaki deprives him of all three and in turn violates the law or constitution (Goldberg, 2011).

The killing did not demonstrate the administration’s commitment to treating arrested terrorists as criminals i.e. granting them all rights and privileges of a criminal trial. From the historic development of U.S. And international law, the killing of this suspect is entirely illegal since it shows that American citizens can be executed by their own government without due process of law. The extrajudicial killing breaches almost all essential or fundamental democratic legal protections that are guaranteed by the Constitution. The executions can be carried out on grounds of standards and evidence that are kept secret from the courts and the entire public. Actually, the Obama Administration limited access to the targeted-killing document to Senate intelligence committees and members of the House (Gorman & Perez, 2013). Moreover, some lawmakers such as those on armed-services committees and judiciary committees will be restricted from accessing the document.

In addition to being an example of egregious over reach of executive power, the acceptance of this assassination by American people will allow the president to assassinate citizens he thinks are bad guys. This issue also opens up the possibility for the president to kill American citizens through the use of global war on terror as a justification for illegal acts and without charges or due process of law. The decision to kill al-Awaki through a from the courts and the public clears the way for extrajudicial and predator drones killing of opponents of the American government, which will eventually result in presidential dictatorship.

In conclusion, the Obama Administration authorized the killing of al-Awaki, a terror suspect on the basis that he was a recruiter for al-Qaeda and posed a threat to security. Since he was an American citizen, his killing was entirely illegal based on U.S. And international law.


Goldberg, Jonah. “Goldberg: Obama’s Terrorist Dilemma,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2013.


Gorman, Siobhan & Perez, Evan. “Obama Relents on Secret Drone Memo,” The Wall Street

Journal, April 4, 2013. http://online.wsj..html

Savage, Charlie. “Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen,” The New York Times,

April 4, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/09/world/middleeast/secret-us-memo-made-legal-case-to-kill-a-citizen.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Shane, Scott. “U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric,” The New York Times, April

4, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/world/middleeast/07yemen.html