This excerpt expands off the post that was submitted a week ago. A fellow student, in his post, references the conflict between Mill’s belief on freedom of expression and the situation involving an American terrorist and the US government’s power. In addition to the relevance of Mill’s in this argument, I would contend that Socrates theory on the types of justice, procedural and substantive, correlate directly with Awlaki’s murder.
The American military recently sought out an American citizen and murdered him in the country of Yemen, affording this man no trial or case to plead his charges. This man, Anwar Al-Awlaki, was an American born terrorist, CIA’s number one most wanted American terrorist, and posed a threat to the American people. All this said, did the American government and military have the power to murder Al-Awlaki before he went under trial?
Three terrorists attacks have been traced back to Anwar, who resides in Yemen, but has American citizenship. Anwar had major ties with Al Quaida and sources claim him as Al-Qaida’s highest recruiter of Western Civilians. Born in New Mexico, Al-Awlaki’s death was approved by the Whitehouse in 2010.
NBC stated, “For the past several years, Al-Awlaki has been more dangerous even than Osama Bin Laden had been. The killing of Al-Awlaki is a tremendous tribute to President Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community.” Our country is positive that the assassination of this AMERICAN born terrorist will help with the war on terror. However, whether or not this assassination will cure our country of expected terrorist attacks, does it go against the constitution and the way of the Americans to kill an American citizen without giving a fair trial? The Constitution’s sixth amendment states all citizens have the “right to speedy trial, confrontation of witnesses.” On the other hand, amendment five writes, ” No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.” Can this specific case plea that the public was in danger with Al-Awlaki alive? At the same time, how can any single entity decide whether this assassination was in the good of the people? Many would argue that because all Americans are promised a fair trial in court, Awlaki deserved one as well.
According to Socrates, there are two ways of viewing justice. One side of the spectrum looks deeper than just a process of the majority, by examining whether the verdict promotes truth, human happiness, and the glory of god and nation, also known as a substantive way of justice. The other form of justice is the result of an outcome that comes out of a legitimate process, known as procedural. When discussing Obama’s assassination of Awlaki, which can be disputed as a very subjective form of justice, which Socratic form of justice would the murder of this American terrorist fall under? Although no trial was held, if the assassination of the CIA’s most wanted terrorist embellished “human happiness” because of more public safety, while also promoting the truth, then this process would fall under the category of a substantive take on justice. However, most of America’s justice falls under the category of procedural, examples being: passing of a law, voting, and court trials, where the majority decides the verdict. This being said, should an American terrorist, an individual whose intentions are to create anarchy within America, change the idea behind a process? If Awlaki was given a fair trial, the veridct would be known before the trial even began. Although all of America may be exposed to this truth, does he still deserve the right to this procedural form of justice. Should the fact that Awlaki’s main intention is to destroy American democracy cease him the right to a fair procedural trial?
There have been multiple attempts at both assassinating Awlaki, as well as kidnapping him. After several attempts, there came a point when the primary goal of the American government was to cease the power that this man held. In this case, that was done through murdering Awlaki. Having lived in Yemen for over three years, Awlaki was extremely difficult to capture, and the president decided that instead of wasting resources on kidnapping him, murdering him would be simpler and quicker.
As lethal as Awlaki could be toward the American public, being an American citizen he is promised the same rights that you and I are guaranteed. Thus posing the question, were America’s actions an act of hypocrisy?