What circumstances justify the use of military force against an individual?

Civil libertarians are objecting to the U.S. missile attack Friday that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who is believed to have played an important role in Al-Qaida. Authorities believed Al-Awlaki had gone from a propaganda role to being increasingly involved in armed operations for the terrorist group.

Last year, the Obama administration added Al-Awlaki to a list of people the CIA should try to kill or capture, a move that prompted protests from his family and a lawsuit from the ACLU. The suit argued that, as an American, Al-Awlaki was entitled to due process of law before he could be deprived of life or liberty. The suit was dismissed.

As the ACLU pointed out on Friday, Al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen, not on a battlefield. It said the attack amounted to the execution of an American citizen.

Today’s Question: What circumstances justify the use of military force against an individual?

  • Joe Knutson

    The immediate threat of great bodily harm or death where the victim cannot escape and is a reluctant participant is the only morally and legally defensible reason for an individual to use deadly (or lesser) force in his or her defense. A government has no more rights than the individuals it represents and therefore must adhere to the same standard or it is committing a crime. There is no moral distinction between deadly force employed by an individual and the “military” force used by a government.

  • Kim

    Assassination of an american citizen , although obviously guilty of treason for his terrorism acts and his self proclaimed guilt..still suggests Obama making a hit list of citizens is pretty scary and unconstitutional. What he should have done is ” have the courts renounce Aw-Alaki’s USA citizenship first! A short trial showing his terrorism acts could banish him, then_ drone him out of existence.

    But will we hear about the truth when the media often sugar coats such as the past numerous important stories — e.g., the questionable and illegal foreign sources of some of the financing of the Obama campaign , the anti-Semitic posts on Obama’s website, Obama’s political organizing in public school classrooms, ACORN’s destruction of Republican voter registrations? All those stories were fact checked and found valid yet media wouldn’t touch it…so who knows what we will hear about Aw-Alaki’s death. For me I am happy he is droned out.

  • kim

    A: The last political figures to declare military Hit lists on their own citizens was Syria’s Asad, Qudafi, Castro, and Hitler. Hmmmm_ where is the DFL outcry or the corrupt U.N.’s Human rights council’s declaration? Ack_ we have Obama and he knows best for all of us..we don’t need no stinking USA Constituion as he has shown in the past three years he can do end runs around that document when he doesn’t get his marxist policies through Congress. Hmmmm…..can we afford four more years of this?

  • lexicon
  • Ruth Rustad

    I think that those who live by the sword should exptect to die by the sword. Al-Awlaki chose to make his life about killing as many innocent people as possible, and was planning on killing many more. He went to a country where he could not be extraced by legal means, so I think it justifiable to stop him by any means available.

  • Steve the Cynic

    (Interesting to see an arch-conservative siding with the ACLU, which is usually the right-wing’s whipping boy. But I digress.)

    This will go down in history as an “incident” that will be debated by scholars, with no real resolution, and no one held accountable. The Republicans in Congress wouldn’t dare impeach Obama over such a thing, lest voters be reminded that they didn’t impeach Bush for lying us into an illegal war, but did impeach Clinton for a sexual peccadillo. On the scale of scandals, if this is one, it barely registers.

  • Kim

    @Steve the cynic, check your post, at least Bush followed the rules and got Congressional approval from Dems and Repubs to go to war..However, Obama side stepped Congress and defied the Constitution with sending forces, as in 75% of NATO strength is American, into Libya.

    No matter what we think of going after terrorists who hide in other lands where summons can’t be sent and capture is nearly impossible the Constitution is the guide we follow..so,here’s the thing all readers should be reminded of when looking at Obama’s policies and actions:

    From the article 9/22 AmericanPatriot_

    “Obama and his minions in the administration as well as many Democrats in the Congress are often described as Socialists, or in the extreme as Marxists. However, their actions and strategy are straight out of the fascist economic playbook. They have become the modern reincarnation of the fascist mindset, without the militarism of Italy and Germany, that dominated Europe in the 1920s and ’30s.

    Over the past seventy years, the left and their allies in the media have succeeded in labeling fascism as a right-wing or conservative philosophy when it in reality was an offshoot of socialism. Socialism/Marxism seeks the total control of a society’s economy through complete state control of the means of production and income. Fascism seeks that same control, indirectly by the state domination of private ownership, as well as controlling individual income and wealth through taxation and regulation. Jonah Goldberg’s masterpiece Liberal Fascism convincingly demonstrates the progressive roots of fascism.

    Per Sheldon Richman in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

    As an economic system, fascism is socialism with a capitalistic veneer. In its day (the 1920′s and 1930′s), fascism was seen as the happy medium between boom-and-bust-prone capitalism, with its alleged class conflict, wasteful competition, and profit-oriented egoism, and Marxism, with its violent socially divisive prosecution of the bourgeoisie.

    Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices; fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. [Emphasis added.]

    ObamaCare is not about health care, per se; rather, it is intended to dictate to business and the individual what insurance they must buy, what health care they are allowed to access, and ultimately what behavior is acceptable — all at the whim of a centralized bureaucracy. The Dodd-Frank Bill firmly establishes the concept of “too big to fail” for certain financial institutions, thereby subjecting them to the absolute control of the state while allowing, and in many cases forcing, others to cease doing business, as well as instituting lending and operating policies determined by government regulators.”

    Obama has added 43% new regulations killing job growth. He has never submitted a real jobs bill just as he has failed to make an Energy policy. All he has done is pay back cronies with Green energy loans, several failed, one is tied to Nancy Pelosi’ brother-inlaw for god’s sake>>the scam and corruption never ends.

    No one asks why Attorney general Holder has NOT investigated Steven Lerner, SEIU union thug leader for his promotion of treason? Good lord, the man is on tape at several speeches advocating this…even the Wall Street protests were directed from him and SEIU…..America needs a real honest leader that is not involved with the corrupt union leaders and Wall Street and Council on Foreign Relations as well as the U.N. Not sure on that? then go read up.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Get real, Kim! First, you misunderstand my post if you interpreted it as approving of the drone strike that raised this question. Second, I could take you more seriously if there were something, anything, that you thought Obama was doing right. But the fact that you only find negative stuff gives the impression that that’s your goal– not seeking the truth, but gathering ammunition you can use in your word war.

    The right-wing critiques of Obama, I’ve noticed, fall into two general categories. One– he’s incompetent, a poor manager, ineffective as a leader, and unable to make things happen. Two– he’s a conspiratorial mastermind, pulling hidden strings, with his behind-the-scenes allies, to gain power and deprive Americans of their freedoms. The thing is, those two pictures are mutually contradictory.

    Your salvoes mostly fall into the second category. They paint “liberals” as if they were a well-organized secret society, all marching in lockstep toward a common goal of world domination. If you knew any actual liberals, it would be obvious how ridiculous that idea is. Liberals are like a herd of cats. They pride themselves on thinking independently, and often disagree among themselves. Get three liberals together, and they’ll have six opinions. If they could suppress their egos enough to agree to pursue a common goal, they’d hard pressed to agree on what goal to pursue. Rather, it’s the conservatives these days that are marching in lockstep, that sniff out heresies in their ranks, that shun and expel dissidents, that enforce conformity, that put out talking points and expect everyone on their side to parrot them. That’s why 40 Republican senators were able to block just about everything the Democrats proposed during Obama’s first two years. Meanwhile, for the brief period when there were 60 Democratic senators they had a hard time passing anything, despite theoretically having enough votes to end a filibuster.

    Clearly, Kim, you are insufficiently skeptical of your sources. If you were as skeptical of them as you clearly are of the “mainstream media,” you’d have an easier time getting to the truth– assuming truth is what you’re after, which doesn’t appear to be the case.

  • Kim

    @Steve, Apparently you have not read the new book, ” Demonic” which well describes the opposite that you had posted; i.e., the DFL progressives rely on keeping moderate democrats from critical thought of their policies.

    No one well read can deny after watching Obama’s speeches, especially the ones in 2009 where he remarks repeatedly of how we need to embrace a New World Order. That sentiment is also spewed out over and over by George Soros in (surprise) MNBC TV interviews. Sadly, even Bush spoke of creating a new World order. And is it odd that the Bilderberg group and the CFR also embrace this? Rather than seek Congress as is required, he went to NATO and the UN to get permission to deal with Libya…that_ is NOT Presidential, that is being a puppet.

    Secondly, FACT: The DFL controlled the House and Senate and Presidency in Obama’s first two years and they got nothing passed on jobs or improving the economy. The GOP led House sent 18 bills approved but Reed refused to let the Senate vote!!! Then, because of failed polices he ramrodded through the Health Reform Bill ( e.g. House Speaker DFL Pelosi stated on TV, ” we have to pass the Health care bill so we can see what is in it!” How is that talk for treating their party as not all idiots?..pass it and then_ we can see what is hidden inside the bill.” 2,300 pages of mostly more regulations and hidden taxes with _ removing 500 billion from medicare..read it

  • Steve the Cynic

    Kim, I’m having a hard time figuring out if you’re a dupe or a shill. The fact that you find Ann Coulter persuasive is enough to tell me there’s no need to bother checking your “facts,” because I know it’s all bullshit. At least I know I can give up trying to reason with you, because you’re not reasonable.

  • kim

    @Steve_ The truth hurts, huh?

    The problem with some is that they have no opinion, but the OPINION has them and that is why few on this posting will ever bother to read

    “The Culture of Corruption” by Michelle Malkin You can research for yourself each and every detail showing what the mainstream media refused to touch. her book is very thorough and uses nothing but referenced news articles and records to support the truth.

    When our President tries to make Congress irrelevant by ignoring the Constitution and making executive acts a routine. He had his DFL run Congress for two years to pass a budget and cut spending. He failed. He submitted a budget bill that NOT ONE DFL or GOP in Congress voted for it! Not one! ouch.

    The last stimulus had the majority of funds went to pay off supporters (e.g., the unions and selected favored on Wall Street, as well as certain foreign groups) America is in trouble. He by-passed Congress on the Libya act, he allowed the EPA to regulate and spend stimulus money for nothing more than what amounts to a slush fund for his supporters. He allowed EPA loans to be rewritten to screw Americans while favoring the hedge fund managers investments in green energy loans_ unheard of and not legal. Now he goes to have the EPA do more billions in green industry loans but where does the money end up? Coincidence that Nancy Pelosi’ California is also one of the backers when California is essentially bankrupt?

    Obama and Reed and Pelosi allows SEIU leaders to be the most active participant in arranging the Pay to Play stimulus funds_ The GM unions got bailed out while investors got shafted…legal? not. He appoints GE’s CEO as his jobs czar and what has GE done in the past 3 years for American jobs? Ah, nothing_ he killed jobs ( e.g., closed lightbulb plants in America while opening new CFL mercury laden ones in Mexico) This alone speaks volumes of where he is coming from.

    So Steve the Cynic should read up a bit on recent history instead of blindly supporting what ever the President rules is the law of the land. Steve, you sound like the PR person for the self avowed communist and former Obama appointed Green Jobs czar, Mr. Van Jones….who just happens to now work for George Soros. Van Jones was kicked out of the administration due to one media that dared to investigate Van Jones’ true past and his marxist affiliations. Those are facts on Jones that can not be refuted and Obama and Valerie Jarret knew full well of his history and THEY approved him. Well?

  • Steve the Cynic

    I wouldn’t know, Kim; you haven’t stated any “truth” about me.

    It never ceases to amaze me when people see in others problems that are really their own. The phenomenon is called projection, and Wikipedia has a fairly good article about it (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection). It’s what leads control freaks to complain about others being too controling, free market ideologues to accuse liberals of being greedy, pacifists to accuse soldiers of being cowards for not refusing to serve, and so on. Kim, you give an excellent example when you write, “The problem with some is that they have no opinion, but the OPINION has them…” and then later accuse me of “blindly supporting” Obama. That appears to describe you to a tee (except that you blindly oppose Obama, but it’s basically the same behavior).

    Kim, you are the one whom “the opinion” has. I’ve been critical of lots of things Obama has done, but I’ve also been critical of the unfair criticism from folks who think it’s more important that he fail than that America succeed. That’s why I said earlier, Kim, that you would be a lot more credible if you could think of anything Obama has done that you approve of; it would show that you’re actually thinking and not merely looking for negative stuff to copy and paste from your “research.” (“Okay, Steve,” say my critics, “tell us something George Bush did that you approve of,” and I reply, “His Africa AIDs initiative was a really good thing and by all accounts effective, and the initial coalition-building and invasion of Afghanistan to target al-Qaeda and topple the Taliban regime seemed to be handled fairly well, and his pre-9/11 plan to partner with ‘faith-based’ organizations was certainly worth a try.”)

    You probably won’t accept this observation as true. Denial runs deep. Just be aware that the only one you’re fooling is yourself.

  • kim


    I notice you can not refute what I reported but choose to sidestep with poor logic any criticism.

    The Question is: What circumstances justify the use of military force against an individual?

    The answer is: Under Obama it doesn’t matter, he does what he wants by circumventing Congress. He has done so many times it is hard to keep count.

    One good example is that his Eric Holder, Attny. General and the FBI refuse to release email documents about Al-Awlaki and why, why, why was that slime invited to speak by the DOD to the Pentagon in June, 2002 and why did the FBI not arrest him when he landed in England?

    And why does the Attorney General Holder refuse to release to Congress the documents about Operation Gun Runner?

    Because he ignores the Constitution. Ever notice that NOT once in all of Obama’s speeches does he ever_ acknowledge that America is a “Republic” . He refers to the USA only as a democracy. Only America is a Republic first..not a democracy where 51% control the other 49%..that is mob rule and mob rule is what our forefathers guarded against by establishing a Republic.

    The fact that Obama thinks his Health reform Bill is legal is telling for there is NO absolutely no authority provided in our Constitution to allow the Federal government to MANDATE citizens to buy anything simply by being alive and not using anything. Car insurance is a state choice and if you don’t drive or own a car, you don’t buy insurance so that often used excuse is invalid. If government can force us to buy anything they they can force us to comply with anything they choose regardless of the Constitutional rights….this is HOW corrupt governments take control, that is how Hitler in 1938 abolished citizen rights in Germany and that tactic is how Castro kept control in Cuba.

    Do you recall Oama’s speech calling for a youth group and to create a civilian army as big or bigger than our military? And the media didn’t think that was important to air a major discussion? Good lord , it was 1939 when Germany saw that Hitler Youth group ( called the Brown Shirts created to spy on their neighbors)

    The fact that Obama’s admin has not fast tracked for a Supreme Court ruling on his Health Care Reform Bill tells his true agenda. He warned us in 2008 how he would like electricity costs to sky rocket and that any development in coal would be the death of that investment. Then in 2009 he allocates $20 billion loan from the stimulus fund to Brazil for deep water oil drilling!! While he has the EPA and Energy Dept stop our own off shore drilling for a year_ killing another 22,000 American jobs. More killed jobs were done by the DFL passing and the Bush signing the Energy act for killing incandescent light bulbs in favor of Mexican and china made CFL bulbs that have more mercury in them then the EPA safe limits in a year of eating fish.

    No matter how you slice it_ Obama’s policies have all failed and he allows SEIU’s Lerner and communist Van Jones to orchestrate Wall Street protests to incite riots. All of this is clear in their own words on tape, at speeches from CBC to Columbia.

    No matter how you cut it, the facts are the facts: $1 trillion plus spent to avoid seeing 8% unemployment…ooops, well over 9% and adding the under employed part timers we have 22% Half a billion lost to Solyndra, thousands of jobs lost to mexico and China_ Thanks to GE policies, their CEO appointed as Obama Jobs czar no less_ what hypocrisy!!!

    The old GOP guard was bad, the DFL was co-opted by the Progressive movement ( aka: used to be called Liberals and before that was the American Communist Party ( reference congressional investigative records between 1951-1953) If Liberals knew how the unions were created from using racism against the Chinese railroad workers, would they see the unions as benevolent? Can not run from history and today’s events can not be swept under the rug for ever by mNBC. CNN is just beginning to ease their bias by avoidance of critical stories of Obama..but barely.

  • Kevin VC

    hmm… (A good pondering question, I like it!)

    Military is meant to be used against other military units and organizations. Armed and organized.

    At least in modern and civilized society. And there will be always blurred lined between this and a disinterested civilian. (For lack of a better word)

    In WW2 people decried the deaths of thousands in carpet bombing. Something that was effective in hitting the military target, and before we had anything effective. Point was we wanted to hit the target, do the damage, and not waste anything on civilians really. We got better. And we continue to do so.

    No when you see modern Terrorists, which are organized, combat ready, and yet in everyday Civilian roles…. its hard to know.

    Being caught in the act is likely the best and only reason to use military action, or if the evidence is overwhelming and presented.

    In this case it maybe justified, but it is always good to question, to challenge, and to learn.

    Even though I have faith it will come out it was the correct move, I would not give up on getting the information to confirm my own belief.

    If the proof does not come forth then we have a new situation…. and I would not know how to phrase it…

  • Steve the Cynic

    No, Kim, it’s not that I cannot. It’s that I choose not to bother, because it’s obvious at a casual glance that your rants are based on spurious research. They have all the hallmarks of anxiety-driven conspiracism. I used to go for that kind of stuff, years ago, until I realized I was being too skeptical of mainstream media and not skeptical enough of alternative sources. It’s important to have a heathly (not obsessive) skepticism about everything. Having once been a fan of the kind of stuff that seems to fascinate you, I can recognize it easily.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Actually, Kevin VC, the Allied carpet bombings of Dresden and Tokyo were not merely aimed at military targets. One of the goals was to terrorize (yes, that was the word) the population, so they’d lose their will to fight. It’s good that the Allies won, but some of the means they employed were ethically questionable. Same goes for the A-bombs. Yes, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were military targets, but it was decided to target cities rather than, say, a fleet at sea, so that everyone would know how destructive the weapon was.

    But the targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki was a different thing. He was arguably not a civilian. He was a self-declared enemy with a history of actually doing harm, which would make him a legitimate military target.

  • Timothy