President Obama recently authorized the killing of a Muslim-American citizen suspected of having connections with al-Qaeda. There are people who believe this is not a problem. There are those who support actions like this as an issue of national security. These are likely the same people who approved of holding detainees indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay. National security is not an issue the United States can afford to take lightly, but this country has principles that should not allow for this kind of action by the executive branch. This is the land of due process.
Anwar al-Awlaki may be a member of al-Qaeda and may speak out against the United States. He is still an American citizen, and that should give him the right to due process. It should not matter that he is Muslim. It should not matter he is a suspected member of al-Qaeda. This is not a country that kills citizens for being suspected. If he is ever proven guilty in a court of law, then he deserves what punishment he receives. Until then, no president should have the ability to authorize the assassination of an American citizen.
The United States should be setting an example. This should be the country that does not torture anyone. This should be the country of due process. This country should recognize the right to a fair trial. Anwar al-Awlaki is far from any battlefield. His death would not be a casualty of war. It would be the assassination of an American citizen authorized by the president of the United States.
Editor's note: CNN.com and the Christian Science Monitor report U.S. administration officials as confirming al-Awlaki is on a "kill-or-capture" list.