On the Constitutionality of the Al-Aulaqi Killing

I had planned to do a post about the constitutionality of the Al-Aulaqi killing.  Prior to completing that post, however, I discovered that John Dehn had already addressed the issue in a pair of posts on Cato’s website.  See here and here.  Basically, Dehn argues that, under Supreme Court decisions like the Prize Cases and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, “lethal targeting of U.S. citizens who are part of an enemy army or force in armed conflict with the United States is entirely constitutional if it is otherwise consistent with the laws of war,” even “without a prior adjudication of guilt . . . .”  Admittedly, Dehn does not specifically consider whether Al-Aulaqi was indeed targetable under the laws of war.  However, this article by Robert Chesney does, and (mostly) answers that question in the affirmative.

I find Chesney’s analysis, and Dehn’s, persuasive.  Consequently, I am inclined to stand by my previously-expressed view regarding Al-Aulaqi’s killing.


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