An American citizen who was never convicted, or even indicted, of a crime has been assassinated by the U.S. government. He is the first of a list of people personally targeted for murder by Obama in the name of "national security".
The U.S. claims that Anwar al-Awlaki, a native-born American citizen, was involved with Al Qaeda, and linked him to the Fort Hood shootings and to an attempted airplane bombing. But he was not a solider or an operative, but a propagandist. He was murdered for what he said.
Sure, what he said was odious -- he called for Muslims to murder any Americans they came across. That's bad. Anwar al-Awlaki was a nasty little man who advocated terrible acts. But free speech extends even to the right to call for violence, and the question of whether Al-Awlaki's speech went over the "imminent lawless action" line is not for the President to unilaterally decide, nor is it for him to impose the death penalty for such speech.
This is a continuation of Bush era policies that called for the the CIA and military to murder U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the U.S. or its "interests". As Glenn Greenwald wrote in January 2010 when the "hit list" first came to light:
Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests." They're entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations. Amazingly, the Bush administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges -- based solely on the President's claim that they were Terrorists -- produced intense controversy for years. That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution. Shouldn't Obama's policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind -- not imprisoned, but killed -- produce at least as much controversy?