I just got my first set of hearing aids this week. It has been an ear opening experience. My hearing has been terrible for years, but recently it deteriorated to a level I could not tolerate. So, I finally made the plunge. I quickly discovered a world of full of sounds to which I had been oblivious. For example I now know that my computer keyboard makes a loud noise every time I hit a key. I didn’t know that. In many ways, this is a good thing. I can certainly understand people better when they talk. To be honest, there were a lot of times when I didn’t understand and was too embarrassed to admit it so I just nodded my head and hoped that worked. If you combined a high female voice in a crowded room, I didn’t have a prayer. But there are also sounds that are frankly annoying. I scraped my fork on the dinner plate last night and jumped about three feet. Now I know why my wife griped so loudly about a sound I could not hear. I am still adjusting to the new world of sound. Although sometimes I miss my world of silence, life is better when you can hear.
This morning, while watching the news, I heard something even more startling. I heard a President of the United States admit to an unprecedented abuse of power. No one is unhappy that Anwar al Aulaqi is gone. The man was a terrorist and he was a threat to the U.S. But he was also a U.S. citizen and that really matters. If Obama had ordered a mission to try and arrest him and he was killed in the attempt, that would be perfectly acceptable. But Obama never pretended that this was anything other than an assassination. Obama has granted to himself sole discretion with regard to the execution of a U.S. citizen without even the pretense of due process. President Obama has been very careful to avoid calling this a war on terror. If it is not a war, then what exactly is the source of his authority to take this action?
There are several things he could have done. He could have had Anwar al Aulaqi tried, in absentia, in a U.S. court or even a military tribunal. He could have asked congress for authorization to eliminate a known terrorist. He could have done a lot of things, but he did not. He just decided Anwar al Aulaqi was a threat so he ordered him eliminated. The problem is with regard to the precedent this sets for this President and for other Presidents in the future. This time, most Americans agree with the decision to eliminate this terrorist. But, there is a reason for the rule of law. The rule of law is not designed to protect the guilty; it is designed to protect all of us. Once we give this type of indiscriminate power to anyone, including a President of the United States, we are entering dangerous new territory. If Obama can target Anwar al Aulaqi, he can target anyone.
President Obama was speaking at the retirement ceremony for Admiral Michael Mullen, who is retiring as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He referred to him as Mike. This shows a lack of respect for the office held by Admiral Mullen. It also shows a lack of respect for the office of President of the United States. I couldn’t help imagining the following phone call: “Hi Mike, Barry. This al Aulaqi guy is becoming a real nuisance. Why don’t you go ahead and take him out!” Really?
According to reports the ACLU is all over this. Normally, I find the ACLU on the wrong side of every issue. But in this case, perhaps we should pay a little more attention to what they say. I don’t know what you heard this morning, but I heard abuse of power. I also heard that a despicable terrorist is no longer with us. The question is, which matters more?