Letters to the Editor

Letter: Due process?

March 22, 2013


To the editor:

On March 13, Mike Hoeflich in his Journal-World column advocated a debate on America’s “drone” policy, based on the killing of an al-Qaida operative Anwar al-Awlaki, (an American citizen) in Yemen by an unmanned drone in 2011. Hoeflich found this “troubling” and advocated “due process” should have been provided to Mr. al-Awlaki based on his American citizenship.

One has to wonder what planet Hoeflich and his other “distinguished professors live on? Due process for a proven enemy combatant in Yemen? How would this work? Are Hoeflich and his little group of utopian “legal experts” going to make the trip halfway around the world to hold court for a declared enemy of America simply because he happened to be born in the U.S.? Does being a U.S. citizen give one carte blanche to act against the interests of America and conduct enemy actions against America while shielded and hiding behind a birth certificate?

A drone is far less expensive than a combat aircraft, and far more accurate. When one goes down, no family back home mourns the death of a loved one. This is how America fights wars today against enemy combatants in faraway lands. The hypothetical scenarios of Hoeflich may be great to argue in a Kansas University classroom, and a coherent drone policy and protections against government abuse are worth discussion. However, using a proven terrorist like Anwar al-Awlaki as someone deserving of due process under law? I don’t think so!


IKU57 5 years, 2 months ago

Obama can kill anyone he designates a terrorist. Good plan Curtis.

tomatogrower 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, at least this guy would have been found guilty in a court. All those Iraqis that Bush killed were just going about their daily lives, and would have been found innocent.

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

"Well, at least this guy would have been found guilty in a court."

The new due process... he would have been found guilty if we hadn't assassinated him first.

Why do we need a constitution when we have trained psychics?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail discusses how the U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus.

Noting the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail says: "They’re extremely hard to bear witness to.

But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to ...

What this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II." Jamail has also reported on the refugee crisis of more than one million displaced Iraqis still inside the country, who are struggling to survive without government aid, a majority of them living in Baghdad.

Click here to watch part 1 of the interview. http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/20/ten_years_later_us_has_left

Think about our USA soldiers living this same hell due to exposure of Phosphorus and Depleted Uranium poisoning.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

Thank you for the comment and the link. This is information that we all need. It is horrible so I think that is why some turn their heads away, but it is reality for those who have to live it, so the least we can do is acknowledge their existence. Once we do that then maybe we will try to find a way to change some things even though now they seem insurmountable.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree with IKU57. When do we lose our right to due process? The minute someone "thinks" someone else is an enemy? Who decides that? The President, the dept of Defense? Who? I will tell you who according to our Constitution: A court of law. With a jury, judge and lawyers who defend the accused. Not the President.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 2 months ago

I can't believe it, you are taking a conservative position. Maybe you need to change your party affiliation.

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

That isn't a conservative position. That's a constitutional position.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

The president was presented with sufficient evident that Anwar al-Awlaki was indeed an al-Qaida operative and high up on the decision making ladder of that organization.

I hate the use of drones for an action such as this because the people around the target are killed also. I loathe the term collateral damage to justify these deaths.

Also, I wonder if those who are manipulating the drones fully realize what they are doing. They can be anywhere on the planet, and fly the drones with a joystick from their computers like playing a game. Is this what it is to some?

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

"The president was presented with sufficient evident that Anwar al-Awlaki was indeed an al-Qaida operative"

There are three branches of government. One of them is judicial and they decide the guilt or innocence of Americans. Last time I looked, The President was not a member of the judicial branch.

Brock Masters 5 years, 2 months ago

Due process is a pain when you want to execute someone. It slows things down and makes sure the person is actually guilty. Geez, how is a king suppose to keep his people in line when he can't be judge jury and executioner?

al-Awalki should have been tried in absentia for treason and if found guilty then bring him to justice dead or alive. Due process would have been met

What crime did al-awalki's son commit? And yet he was killed by a drone too.

If you're in the heat of battle and a person is trying to kill you then use whatever means are available to stop them. If you try to apprehend them and the resist and pose an imminent threat then again use whatever means are available but I'd they are sitting in a cafe, only suspected of a crime you cannot just kill them

It is easy to dismiss the rights of a bad guy, but if you don't protect their rights you risk your's.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

How can you try them "in absentia"?

Part of our constitutional rights include the right to confront one's accuser - if the accused isn't here, they can't exercise that right.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 2 months ago

If it were the government that was preventing them from confronting their accusers, your point might be valid. But since their absence is self inflicted, it is they who are making the choice to not confront their own accuser(s). If they want to confront them, all they need do is walk into the courtroom and do so.

bad_dog 5 years, 2 months ago

Due process does not ensure "actual" guilt, fred. There are probably hundreds of wrongfully convicted prisoners in this country today. Even ethel knows that.

Brock Masters 5 years, 2 months ago

Bad dog - is that all you have to offer? The first part of the post was satirical.

So, yes, you'd have to be a moron to believe everyone convicted is guilty. Convictions are overturned every day because cops lied, prosecutors withheld evidence and so on.

Still, due process is better than just being droned.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Ditto on wounded soldier comments.

Others around the world see the USA government sponsored CIA as terrorists and the occupation of other countries as a terrorist activity.

What country has attacked the USA shores in recent history? None

Fortunately Americans per se are not necessarily disliked because of government activities that most of us have no clue as to what is truly going on.

Exclusive: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Explains Decision to End His Life http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/21/exclusive_dying_iraq_war_veteran_tomas

Exclusive: Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Reads "Last Letter" to President Bush and Dick Cheney http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/21/exclusive_dying_iraq_war_veteran_tomas_young

156 in congress voted against going to war http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/07/11/550022/--Never-forget-the-legendary-156-who-voted-against-Iraq-War

Dan Eyler 5 years, 2 months ago

Conservatives need to break free of the John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Obama mentality that the whole world is a battle field. We need to join our libertarian friends and demand that the constitution and bill of rights are the law of the land. Democrats and the media are silent on the issue of drone attacks, and indefinite detention of Americans . Obama and his administration support both. Democrats follow Obama like the pied-piper at the cost of their own lives and liberty. They do this because they realize he isn't who they thought he was but they can't admit it even at the cost to their own freedom. With that said the old republican guard such as John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, Bob Dole and other familiar names are also playing the part of the pied-piper convincing republicans that the whole world is a battle field. Like Obama they all are enemies of freedom the constitution and bill of rights. Rand Paul illustrated this beautifully in his senate filibuster where he came under attack for questioning the constitutionality of killing, or detaining Americans without due process. Rand Paul's point is the government will expand the killing and detention of Americans beyond Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan to include a new battle field, the United States where many will be swept into unlawful detention and possible assassination. Curtis needs to realize the motives of Obama and the current democrat and republican leadership is to convince you that they are killing our enemy. They believe they have the right to label any American an enemy and kill them or detain them not because they are a threat to our nation but a threat to their control on power. The constitution and bill of rights is the only deterrent. Obama, and the current leadership in Washington DC would wipe their asses with the constitution if it allows them to maintain their power and privilege. Out of pride or fear and the promise of security, it seems 1/2 of Americans are willing to wipe their own asses as well. I hope Curtis isn't one of them.

weeslicket 5 years, 2 months ago

mike hoeflich, rand paul and the constitution walk into a bar......d'oh!

Jaded_one 5 years, 2 months ago

Where was all this frickin patriotism and worry about the constitution when the previous administration wanted to track our every move by any means necessary. I'm not a Dem or Repub. I just find it hilarious with all the hipocrisy .As long as I do not conspire to bring harm to this country I will not live in fear that a drone is going to take my family out....laughable

Bill Getz 5 years, 2 months ago

The President nor anyone else should be able to orchestrate "hits" on American citizens without due process. Period. I don't know that the constitutional definition of "treason" is subject to due process, however, and perhaps they ought to work on it from that angle.

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

Democrats argued that suspected terorrists should be given due process and tried, and regressives thought that was the dumbest idea they had ever heard - they accused democrats of wanting to treat the enemy like mere criminals rather than enemies of the U.S. In fact, President Cheney argued that suspected terorrists weren't even entitled to the basic protections of the Geneva Convention.

Regressives will complain no matter what Obama does.

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

"Democrats argued that suspected terorrists should be given due process"

Americans and persons on American soil are protected by the constitution. The balance of the world is not. That democrats don't care about the difference between protections afforded by the constitution and those not is typical.

I suggest you read the the Geneva Convention so that you may understand why terrorists are not covered.

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

"That democrats don't care about the difference between protections afforded by the constitution and those not is typical."

That regressives think Americans are privileged with fundamental rights that others do not have is typical too.

I suggest you read our founding documents so that you understand that the fundamental rights of all people are acknowledged, not simply granted to Americans.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 2 months ago

Apart from the mix of technologies available to the opposing forces, there's no real difference in lethality between today's U.S. drone strikes against insurgent ground targets, and insurgent's remotely-detonated IED strikes against their enemy U.S. ground targets. In both cases, soldiers identify targets and set up the strikes, and soldiers who push buttons cause remote explosions that kill people. The killing is done without physically battling an enemy who was just blown to pieces.

I don't know if this represents the "new humanity". But it certainly is a new era of warfare that humankind increasingly wages, and it's warfare that horrifically mimics the violent fantasies of electronic video game brutality. The only thing pulling our eyes away from the colorful screen action are the wounded coming home, the dead who require burial, the constant drain on our national wealth, and the profits gained by weapon makers.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

The movie The Hurt Locker is a good one to watch as it accurately portrays what is going on. In one scene a shopkeeper cheerfully waves to some US soldiers before he goes into the shop and pushes a button that blows them up. I would think that incidents like this would justify our troops assuming that pretty much everyone is out to get them. It puts the kibosh on any reasonable interaction between civilian and soldier when there is no way to tell which is which. They know who we are, but we don't know who they are.

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

Vertigo said: "we're talking about suspected U.S. CITIZEN terrorist. There is a difference. Foreign nationals in foreign nations are not entitled to the protections afforded under the U.S. constitution. U.S. citizens are."

You're wrong. Fundamental rights, like Due Process, were not granted by the Constitution to Americans, they were recognized by the Founders as inherently belonging to all persons everywhere. It is logically inconsistent and nothing less than racist to argue that an American terrorist operating in a foreign nation has a right to due process but a non-American under the exact same circumstances has no such right and can be killed. There is no non-arbitrary distinction between the two; Americans are not privileged with fundamental rights that non-Americans don't have.

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

No, but neither should an American enemy combatant who shoots a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan be treated as a criminal and afforded due process. We should return fire and kill both of them.

What would you have soldiers do - stop to determine the citizenship of everyone who shoots at them so they can respect the constitutional rights of combatants who happen to hold American citizenship. Good luck with that. Actually, you probably like that idea.

Brock Masters 5 years, 2 months ago

An American who fires on a US soldier in combat is not entitled to due process. An American citizen who is only suspected of being a terrorist and is sitting in a cafe not engaged in combat should not be droned.

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

But non-citizens can be killed under the exact same circumstances? How do you justify that? Because non-Americans aren't persons? You regressives would love to think that, wouldn't you?

Even if I grant that, when practical to do so, enemy combatants who happen to be American citizens should be captured and tried, the discussion hasn't been limited to that particular scenario.

Brock Masters 5 years, 2 months ago

Snake why the name calling? Does it make you feel big? You don't have a clue who I am and what I think.

A non-American only suspected of being a terrorist sitting in a cafe should not be droned. On the battlefield in the heat of battle all bets are off.

An bin laden type who admits to having attacked the US ? Take them out by any means necessary.

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

The President isn't "some bureaucrat", he's the commander-in-chief. Perhaps you'd be happier if a general were making the call?

Your position is arbitrary, logically inconsistent, and, ultimately, ridiculous.

Liberty275 5 years, 2 months ago

An American anywhere is guaranteed due process in an American court by virtue of being American before any American justice can be carried out. That's why Bush brought home that silly little american alquaida boy to be tried in a court of law.

There is indeed an arbitrary difference regarding people not on US soil. Americans don't lose their constitutional rights because they are accused of a crime and living in some mideast desert..

SnakeFist 5 years, 2 months ago

LOL! Under Bush, terrorists attacking the U.S. were enemy combatants not even entitled to the most basic human rights. Now you want to call them "criminals living in the desert in order to escape justice" - as though they've committed some minor infraction and run off to hide from the police in some backwater desert town.

bearded_gnome 5 years, 2 months ago

vertigo 12 hours, 37 minutes ago

I hope Mr Bennett never does anything that could be construed as suspicious. All it takes is one organization to deem that suspicious activity as possibly terrorism related and then BOOM drone strike on him and his family.

Nevermind that he may never have actaully done anything wrong, or that the suspicious activity could have been easily explained away if ever questioned. Without the hope of due process your side of the story may never get told.

---or using the rules in effect in Pakistan, beyond this, the "he" above might just associate with the wrong dude and thus get himself droned to death. and, droned without his identity being fully checked, checked to see if he is also an american citizen, etc. isn't that nice.

no, general vs. resident doesn't matter. if that's an american citizen, he/she has rights and cannot be targetted for death by the executive, whoever takes that action in cold blood. now, in "emergent situations" you kill the dude/dudette with the weapon in hand.

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