The News Tribune’s editorial (10-4) on the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of America by its editorial board.
John Adams said that “we are a nation of laws, not men.” Yet the editorial board would have its readers believe we are a nation of presidents (and their dictates). The mettle of Americans in defending their Constitution is tested when the issue at hand is difficult and involves loathsome individuals.
What we know is that al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen who disseminated anti-American diatribes on video and in text. That is all we know. Everything else is what we are told. We’re told that he was integral planner of several terror attacks, but never has the U.S. government felt it worthwhile to show us any evidence.
Similarly we were told countless times that Jose Padilla was a “dirty bomber,” yet at trial those allegations evaporated. Al-Awlaki may have been a plotter of terror attacks, but our president never deigned to try to prove as much.
Why would The News Tribune scoff at worries of abuse of executive powers by any president as “ridiculous”? Because we trust this president? Because the lawyers he hired in the Office of Legal Counsel, in this case, told him it was legal? Because a president wouldn’t do such a thing?
We are a nation of laws, not men.