By Tim Mack in Opinions
October 6, 2011
The execution of Troy Davis and assassination of Anwar al-Aulaqi should ignite a discussion amongst the citizens of this country. The citizens should carefully analyze when it is appropriate for the government to murder or put a citizen to death.
Troy Davis was an African-American male executed by lethal injection by the State of Georgia. He was convicted of murdering a white off-duty police officer in 1988. The evidence against him was a far cry from being “beyond a reasonable doubt.” There was no physical evidence connecting him to the murder of the off- duty police officer. Additionally, many of the witnesses’ original claims were recanted or changed, making the lead evidence of his murder tainted. Many prominent folks cried for a retrial for this gentleman.
Former Georgia Governor and 39th President, Jimmy Carter describes the case as “illustrating the deep flaws in the application of the death penalty in this country.” President Carter further went on to state, “Executing Troy Davis without a real examination of potentially exonerating evidence risks taking the life of an innocent man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice.”
Davis was executed after a brief delay (allegedly as the U.S. Supreme Court considered the case).
Huffington Post’s headline expressed the thoughts of many when it read, “Countdown to Injustice: Minutes dwindle until Troy Davis faces execution on ‘skimpiest of evidence.’”
The troubling fact is that many people believe this was justice. I doubt they’d feel this way, if Mr. Davis were a relative or friend.
Nine days after the Troy Davis execution, the Yemeni Government announced the death of Anwar Al-Awlaki, member of Alqaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It was also acknowledged Awlaki was targeted. Awlaki was American-born and educated. Although he moved back to Yemen when he was seven, he returned to receive his education. Awlaki was an American citizen.
We could agree, in the midst of his recruiting for his organization, Awlaki spread hateful and dangerous rhetoric. However, the idea that his actual wrongdoing was severe enough to merit being murdered without a trial is beyond me.
Awlaki wasn’t Osama Bin Laden.
In fact, Awlaki wasn’t very well known throughout Yemen and wasn’t in particularly high ranking in the group he belonged.
Laura Kasinof, a freelance reporter covering Yemen for the New York Times, gave great insight through her Twitter about Awlaki’s irrelevance in the country. She stated that half of the citizens of Yemen (she spoke to) had no clue of the death of Awlaki. Additionally, she retweeted Joshua Hersh of Huffington Post Foreign Policy, tweeting similar sentiments. Yemen’s citizens are more concerned with ousting their current leaders Ali Abdullah Saleh and Ali Muhammad Mujawar.
Although many could argue that the American so-called War on Terrorism lawfully allows this hit, The ACLU would say different:
“The targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law. As we’ve seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts. The government’s authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the President – any President – with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said.
If the case for the murder of Awlaki was hateful and dangerous rhetoric, we can vastly look at the words of bigoted organizations around the country, like the Ku Klux Klan. And if you found his speech to be dangerous enough, capture him and bring him to trial, ‘Saddam style.’
Both of these cases are showcasing an emerging dangerous element of an unchecked government. In the case of Troy Davis, the justice system clearly failed what may have been an innocent man. A tweet I came upon stated The State of Georgia would rather murder Troy Davis than admit it was wrong, and similarly the U.S. would rather make Awlaki something he isn’t to justify his lack of trial.
Murdering an American citizen without a trial is a dangerous trend and putting someone to death without a fair trial is an equally dangerous trend. Let’s face it, they’re both bad precedence.