Within the larger debate about whether US drone strikes are ethical, there is the argument about whether the US can target its own citizens.
Ever since Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011, there has been a debate about the administration’s right to have targeted one of its own citizens. Al-Awlaki was a very dangerous, avowed anti-American jihadi and Al-Qaeda affiliate involved in several terrorist plots and attacks against the U.S. Stuart Levey, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said al-Awlaki: ”has proven that he is extraordinarily dangerous, committed to carrying out deadly attacks on Americans and others worldwide … [and] has involved himself in every aspect of the supply chain of terrorism—fundraising for terrorist groups, recruiting and training operatives, and planning and ordering attacks on innocents.” But surprisingly, he was never tried for treason.
Now comes the problem of American-born Abdullah al-Shami. Taken to the Middle East as a young child (he never returned), al-Shami has become a senior leader and top planner for Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, planning terrorist actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere against Americans. Apparently he is as dangerous as al-Awlaki. Most in the administration believe he should be terminated. Why is there again a controversy that there needs to be legal justification? Why not simply try him in absentia for treason? After his almost certain conviction (he won’t come back to defend himself), he would lose his American citizenship. After that… send in the drones. // Howard T. Bellin