So we’re having this debate again.
Get ready for the big debate again over the need to act against al-Qaeda threats and the need to afford Americans their civil rights. The last time the US targeted an American for a lethal military attack, it was Anwar al-Awlaki, who was repeatedly targeted and finally killed in a drone strike despite his status as a US citizen — and as was another American, Samir Khan, an AQ propagandist. CNN reports today that the Obama administration is debating at its “highest levels” whether to launch another military strike against an American member of al-Qaeda:
Swap out Al Qaeda for Nazi Germany and a drone for a B-17 and we wouldn’t even be having this ridiculous conversation each time.
We are not engaged in a criminal investigation of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is not a criminal organization. It’s not a drug smuggling ring or a mob outlet. It’s an international enemy force with tens of thousands of soldiers.
Its members are not American citizens no matter what passports they hold. They give up being Americans when they join it.
Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States. That’s not a metaphor or a figure of speech.
In August of 1996, Osama bin Laden issued his first fatwa, a 30-page polemic entitled “Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places,” against the United States and Israel, and it was published in a London newspaper called Al Quds al Arabi.
Al Qaeda members reject the Constitution of the United States and the idea of the nation state. They believe that Islam is supreme over the United States and over all other allegiances.
Al Qaeda members take an oath of allegiance to Al Qaeda and its leaders. They place their Bayat, their oath to Al Qaeda leaders, above any and all other commitments. Their Al Qaeda oath is considered the equivalent of the oath to Mohammed.
An Al Qaeda member cannot break his oath without becoming a Kuffar, an infidel. To remain a Muslim in good standing, he must remain loyal to Al Qaeda.
1. Any Al Qaeda member who had American citizenship has already given it up by joining Al Qaeda. He is not engaged in a criminal enterprise, but in a war against the United States.
2. Al Qaeda members don’t need to be prosecuted. They’re not shoplifting in our stores or mugging passerby. They’re engaged in a war with us. We can either kill them or they can kill us.
3. There is no need to “gather evidence” against enemy personnel. The correct term is gathering intelligence. It’s not a job for the Justice Department, but for the military.
4. It might be helpful to capture some enemy combatants for intelligence purposes, but that’s often risky in enemy territory.
5. Finally, it’s not a slippery slope. Not unless you move to Yemen and join Al Qaeda and make videos calling on your followers to kill Americans. And in that case, it’s not a slope at all.
6. American citizenship is not magic. It doesn’t mean that you can join an enemy army and expect to be shielded from attack because you have to be prosecuted first.
That’s not how war works.