Defending An Active Terrorist, Ctd

Here's the beginning of a long Greenwald post attacking my position on Anwar al-Awlaki:

Hauling out a decades-old zombie canard that will probably never die -- namely, that a lawyer who advocates for the Constitutional rights of a Bad Person is acting improperly or even subversively -- Andrew Sullivan, in a post entitled "Defending an Active Terrorist," writes:

The decision of the ACLU and CCR (the Center for Constitutional Rights) to represent Anwar al-Awlaki, even as he continues to emit clear death threats to writers and cartoonists, seems to me to cross a line.

I'd really love to know:  which "line" would this be?

Even Bush-43-appointed federal judge John Bates -- who presided over the 3-hour hearing on the request by the ACLU and CCR for an injunction against Awlaki's assassination -- repeatedly acknowledged that the American-citizen-targeted assassination power Obama is asserting is extraordinary, and the DOJ's unrestrained executive power theory invoked to justify it is unprecedented.  Does Andrew really believe that it's the duty of every Good, Patriotic American lawyer to refuse to participate in a judicial adjudication of these critical Constitutional questions?  It's preferable to simply cede this power to the Government without any judicial review or ruling as to its propriety or Constitutionality -- just allow the Government the power to compile hit lists of American citizens far from any battlefield without even having to defend the Constitutionality of those actions in court?  What conception of patriotism calls for that?  Which "line" compels abstention from such proceedings?

No line. I have no desire to prevent the ACLU or CCR from doing what they are doing. That is their right. But I sympathize with one board member of CCR who has reservations about this. The reason? Awlaki is not imprisoned; he has not been seized extra-judicially and tortured. What makes this different from defending the rights of terror suspects who are already under our physical control and in our custody (which I have not stinted in doing) is that Awlaki isn't. He is currently a core member of the faction of al Qaeda that is actively trying to murder us. You will find no such account of Awlaki's record of despicable Jihadist terror in Glenn's post. As for "imminent" and "immediate" threat, maybe Glenn could have a word with the cartoonist for Seattle Weekly who, even now, is living in hiding and has had to change her name because of Awlaki's fatwa of death against her. I'm sure she regards the threat as imminent. 

And, at some point, standing up for her - and for Glenn's and my right to speak freely - seems to me more important than defending Awlaki's free speech, rather than noticing his enmeshment in a lethal al Qaeda faction that has already tried to murder countless innocents in the name of holy war.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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