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No Cheers for Assassination

Letter to the Editor of the Boston Globe


Susan McLucasI, for one, am not cheering the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki by American drone strike in Yemen on September 30.  Are we in the Wild West these days?  The president, it seems, can put anyone he wants on a hit list, to be assassinated, and a US court even supports this right, saying it's a state secret, who is on a kill list.  It's a sad day for our "democracy!"

Anwar al-Awlaki was a moderate Muslim cleric, who was only radicalized after watching Muslims being slaughtered by the thousands, on a routine basis, year after year in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He apparently began thinking that it was good thing to kill Americans.

I don't say that wanting to kill Americans is a good thing, but I think it's much worse that our country actually does slaughter thousands of people in those faraway places, apparently with the greatest of ease, hardly considering it a matter worthy of note. 

Imagine if our country were being occupied by a foreign country and that we were being killed and terrorized by the thousands.  How long would we continue to just non-violently protest this kind of situation, before we would do something to fight back.  I cannot condemn people who want to kill us any more than I condemn our government for killing millions of Iraqis, Afghans and other people from that part of the world.  After all, we're the ones who started these wars.

We were all suitably horrified when George Bush took upon himself extremely expansive authority.  Barack Obama is more expansive in his presidential powers.  Bush never claimed the right to assassinate American citizens.  What about due process, getting one's day in court?

I hope the legal debate the Boston Globe referred to in the Oct 1, '11 article by Peter Finn "Awlaki assassination triggers legal debate" will be undertaken very seriously.  If we do not curb the president's authority to take unilateral action in life and death matters, like who to assassinate, we have no right to consider that we live in a democracy.

Susan McLucas
Somerville, MA

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