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After Al-Aulaqi's Killing, Why Due Process Matters

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October 3, 2011

In “Crime or War: Execution or Assassination?” David Shipler of The Shipler Report writes about why due process — even for terrorism suspects who have admitted to plotting against the U.S. — is important:

So, why bother to bring the guilty man in for a fair trial? For thorough truth-finding, one could say, or to uphold the pageantry of constitutional justice, which is a crown jewel of our democracy. To lend unquestioned legitimacy to the ultimate sentence, even if it is death, so the world does not look upon America with repugnance. To keep the trappings of civilized order so that we do not become a vigilante state. To stop ourselves from taking a step down a long slope whose ends might be oppression very different from anything we can now imagine…

Shipler also calls for the Obama administration to reveal the standards under which Americans are placed on the CIA’s “kill lists,” information we seek in our Predator Drone Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit. But the government has mostly stonewalled our attempts to uncover basic information about targeted killings. The CIA refuses to confirm or deny whether it has any records at all relating to targeted killings using drones, even though the CIA’s involvement in the drone program is widely acknowledged. And other government agencies flatly refuse to release documents explaining the government’s asserted legal basis for conducting targeted killings — including against U.S. citizens — using drones.

This morning, Glenn Greenwald noted in Salon that ABC News’ Jake Tapper asked White House spokesman Jay Carney if the Obama administration will release the evidence that justified the assassination of al-Aulaqi, who was a U.S. citizen.

You have to see the video to believe it, but in a word, the answer is: “No.”

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