Lawfare meets Awlaki

John Yoo comments on the legal basis for Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing:

Sunday’s report on the Obama administration’s secret legal justification for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki shows just how dangerously confused they have become about the rules of war.  All of this comes, of course, with the caveat that we are only going on secondhand descriptions of the Office of Legal Counsel opinion (and we should at least note, in passing, that this administration’s members attacked the Bush folks for not making similar national-security documents public, and have already refused to make public their legal opinions that laughably found the Libya conflict not to be a “war”).

Let’s give partial credit where it is due.  Apparently the Obama administration argues that al-Awlaki was a legitimate target because he is a member of an enemy engaged in hostile conduct against the United States.  At least Obama has figured out that the war on terrorism is in fact a war, and that it is not limited just to Afghanistan.  We should be thankful that Obama officials have quietly put aside the arguments they made during the Bush years that any terrorist outside the Afghani battlefield was a criminal suspect who deserved his day in federal court.  By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).

He goes on to say that the administration’s legal theory is dangerous and incoherent.

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