Rachel Maddow raised a series of questions about the legality of the killing of the U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on her Friday show.
Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. airstrike on Friday morning. While many lawmakers and pundits celebrated the death, others were troubled by the precedent that might be set by killing an American citizen without any trial or evidence presented against him.
Maddow ran through the long list of operations that al-Awlaki was allegedly involved in. She noted that there were "a lot of 'allegedlys'" in the list, and that "none of those allegations was ever made in court." The only due process involved in al-Awlaki's killing, she says, was that President Obama ordered him to be killed.
"Can the United States government choose an American citizen to be executed without ever charging them with anything, without ever proving anything against them, without ever giving them a chance to defend themselves?" she wondered. "Whether or not you think it is deserved, under what authority did President Obama or could any president sign him up to be killed on sight?"
Later, Maddow asked her guest, Wired writer Spencer Ackerman, about the precedent that could be set by the killing.
"If the US government can justify this action overseas, what about here in the US?" she asked. Ackerman said he didn't see what the difference was between ordering an American to be killed overseas and ordering him to be killed on U.S. soil.