I had the opportunity this past Tuesday, September 18, 2012, to serve as a facilitator at Austin Community College’s annual Constitution Day event. I got to lead a group of ACC students in a discussion of a constitutional issue. After the discussion, each group has two students get up: one to argue for the constitutionality of the subject, and one to argue against it. This was the second year I have participated, and for all that I joke about warping the minds of America’s youth, it is a truly great experience to help people explore these issues. The students range in age from high school to retired, and from painfully shy to please-let-someone-else-speak.
My table’s question dealt with the assassination of Anwar al-Aulaqi (sometimes spelled “Awlaki”), an American citizen living in Yemen. After he was linked to al-Qaeda, the Fort Hood shooter, and the “Underwear Bomber,” he was placed on a CIA assassination list. An unmanned drone killed him and several others in Yemen on September 30, 2011. The question, in essence, was this: since al-Aulaqi was a natural-born U.S. citizen (born in Las Cruces, New Mexico), did his placement on a “kill list” without trial or conviction violate his rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution? Discuss.