When accused of conspiracy to commit espionage, in passing secrets to the USSR, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in 1951 after a trial, they had had due process. They were indicted by Grand Jury. They had a defense attorney who argued their being not-guilty. A jury decided their fate. Whatever opinion one may have about the appropriateness of the conviction and sentence, they were executed as the result of this legal process.
Even foreign nationals who commit crimes on our soil, or in our air space, are afforded due process. “Underwear Bombers” and the like are not taken out and placed against a wall and shot on apprehension.
The same cannot be said for the recent assassination of two US citizens by rocket attack. There was not even the semblance of due process. No indictment, no prosecution, no defense, no legal process whatsoever. They were assassinated in another country because President Obama authorized the shot.
While the world may be a better place without Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Kahn, and I would agree that such is the case, that they can be executed on the sole discretion of our President is contrary to the most fundamental principles of our Republic. Although I seldom agree with anything Ron Paul suggests, his point that the assassinations of al-Awlaki and Kahn are impeachable offences, is a point well-taken. Anyone of us progressives who has ever suggested that Vice President Cheney and President George W. Bush should stand trial, cannot jump to immediately dismissing Paul’s suggestion. There is no Constitutional authority for such killings. This is a near-dictator kind of behavior that is, by any definition, an expansion of Executive authority that candidate Obama so repudiated when his predecessor stretched Presidential power.
There may be Federal law that allows the President to declare martial law under some circumstances but we are under no such declaration. If the ‘war on terrorism’ warrants declaration of martial law, then we shall be under such dictatorial authority for a very long time.