Saturday, October 1, 2011

Innocent until proven guilty?

“Another victory for the good guys” was the introductory statement for Bill O’Reilly to the “Talking Points” segment on his Fox News TV show regarding the recent killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki by a drone missile strike.   Early Friday morning, Al-Awlaki and another American born militant were killed in Yemen as part of a CIA led attack. Al-Awlaki allegedly had ties to many terrorist activities; like meeting with some of the 9/11 hijackers, the underwear bomber…
Al-Awlaki wasn’t a really good guy and he did some really bad stuff while completely misappropriating a religion to serve his intentions to harm others.   I can’t say I’m sad at all that he is no longer living, he was a person who didn’t seem to hold other people in very high regard, and I tend to not like people who don’t like their fellow humans. 
It’s interesting of note that Al-Awlaki was an American citizen, born in New Mexico and a graduate of Colorado State University.  So when Al-Awlaki was killed, he was essentially punished for a crime of which he was never convicted of.  What’s the big deal?  The Bill of Rights that is, which guarantees a person should not “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (7) and “the right to a speedy and public trial” (8).  Al-Awlaki was denied both rights.  Remember, he was an American citizen.
Supporters of the killing (assassination) will argue he was a terrorist (alleged) and deserved his fate.  This is all part of the “War on Terror” they say, and we must strike our enemies before they strike us.  Besides the blatant disregard of the Bill of Rights, or at least these aforementioned parts since those celebrating the killing strongly hold to the 2nd Amendment, there is the interesting manner in which the conversation is framed. 
The killing of Al-Awlaki was part of the “War on Terror;” of which also is the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.   This “War on Terror” has lasted over 10 years and shows no signs of ending; the U.S. still has troops in both of these countries with some arguing we should not lessen our presence in Iraq or Afghanistan.   Where does it end? (Hint- it doesn’t!)
The genius of the “War on Terror” is the ambiguity of it; there is no clear enemy, no battlefield, and no enemy state – there is simply those classified as “terrorists.”  Since we are at “war” with these terrorist, the U.S. can basically do anything it wants in order to win this (never ending) war; there is no accountability.  And worse, we’ve essentially given the U.S. government a free pass to do whatever it wants in order to win this “War on Terror.”  Take out a U.S. citizen without a trial? No problem.   Torture some inmates? Sure.  Hold some “suspects” without cause? You betcha.  If this is a war, what’s to stop the Army from rolling some tanks up and blowing to bits some Islamic extremist right here in America? We’re at war right? 
The (purposeful) ambiguity is the problem; a “War on Terror” will never end because there will always be people who hate America and want to see it suffer.  The definition of a “terrorist” can continually be altered and modified (certainly there are many groups in America that do not support our present situation; are they terrorists? Should they be attacked?).  Precedence has been set in that because we are at “War” rules can be broken.  If we kill people who are “innocent until proven guilty,” can we still call ourselves the “good guys?”
Where does it end? Will it ever end?
(I do not condone in any way the evil actions of these people, but neither am I supportive of hypocritical and unaccountable methods of counteracting their evil actions.)

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