by Gary Farber
I say we just kill all accused murderers from now on.
Think of the money saved, the deficit, and, of course, the children.
Now that we've established that the courts and Constitution don't matter, let's just jail all the accused criminals, too. Why lose sleep? They're murderers and criminals! The state says so.
All Presidents need the power to assassinate people simply because they say so. What could go wrong?
This matters not.
Amendment 5 - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Why believe Anwar al-Awlaki was a major figure, btw? Irrelevant to the crucial question, but it again goes to the question of simply having a prosecution, without courts or trial or defence, simply because... the state says that's what should be done.
Imagine the worst President you can think of. Should that President have the power to unilaterally execute people not in the heat of battle? Are we truly "at war"? If so, when does it end?