Al-Qaeda and John Yoo: Concerns and a Qualified Endorsement We Can Do Without

As I have made clear, I support the Obama administration's decision to take out American-born, terrorist-turned Anwar al-Awlaki before this traitor could do any more harm to America and Americans.

This support was buttressed when I read that al-Qaeda -- the same gang of terrorists that massacred more than 3,000 innocent American men, women and children; the same organization that has vowed to kill more Americans, to destroy America -- is very concerned about our Constitutional rights, our laws, our "freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms" and about the legality of the al-Awlaki killing.

Mr. John Yoo, the mastermind of the infamous "torture memos," the memos which provided "legal" justification for torture in the form of waterboarding, other "enhanced interrogation techniques" and for other illegal and Unconstitutional measures employed by the Bush administration, has now expressed his qualified support for the killing of al-Awlaki in an article at the National Review Online. Yoo calls it "The Administration's Strange Reasoning on al-Awlaki."

I am now in the dubious position of having the nominal support of a man some consider to be a criminal. This in itself, some will say, should be reason enough for me to re-examine my views and position.

However, just as those who oppose the killing of al-Awlaki will take no comfort from al-Qaeda's sinister sympathy with our Constitutional and legal rights, I take no encouragement or inspiration from Mr. Yoo's qualified approval, and I will continue to express my support for the recent action in spite of his rhetoric.

I say "qualified" because even when putting his unwelcome seal of approval on a necessary action to protect our country and our citizens, Yoo manages to detract from the operation and to disparage the President. In his article, Yoo says:

Let's give partial credit where it is due. Apparently the Obama administration argues that al-Awlaki was a legitimate target because he is a member of an enemy engaged in hostile conduct against the United States. At least Obama has figured out that the war on terrorism is in fact a war, and that it is not limited just to Afghanistan...

But the administration's former worldview of terrorism still infects their decisions, to the country's detriment. According to the reports, the Obama administration believes that force could only be used against al-Awlaki because arrest was impractical and al-Awlaki posed an imminent threat of harm to the United States. This is plainly wrong. It may make for good policy, especially toward American citizens who make the mistake of joining the enemy, but there is no legal reason why a nation at war must try to apprehend an enemy instead of shooting at him first. Every member of the enemy armed forces and leadership is a legitimate target in wartime, regardless of whether they can be caught or whether they pose an imminent threat. In fact, the Obama administration continues to confuse war with crime -- the idea that you must try to arrest first and can only use force against an imminent attack is the standard that applies to the police, not the military.

Talk about a backhanded endorsement from a dubious source -- an endorsement one could really do without.

Talk about strange bedfellows ...

I fully realize that, in the minds of some, Yoo's questionable and weird support may be used to undermine my arguments. So be it. I did not have to mention Mr. Yoo's pronouncement, but -- just like al-Qaeda's concern over our Constitutional rights -- it is too blatantly shameless no to be mentioned. I know most readers will consider the source...