Paul criticizes Obama on al-Awlaki killing
September 30th, 2011
10:40 AM ET
7 years ago

Paul criticizes Obama on al-Awlaki killing

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul criticized President Obama Friday for "assassinating" al Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, saying that the American-born Muslim cleric should have been tried in a U.S. court.

Al-Awlaki, who preached terror as the public face of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was killed in Yemen Friday when an airstrike hit his motorcade, a Yemeni government official said. A "successful joint intelligence-sharing operation" between Yemen and the United States led to the attack that killed al-Awlaki, a Yemeni government official said Friday.

A senior U.S. administration official confirmed al-Awlaki's death, and the president was expected to make a statement on the situation later Friday morning. The United States has previously stated that al-Awlaki would be targeted if he were ever located.

"If the American people accept this blindly and casually, that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it's sad," Paul told reporters after a speech in Manchester Friday.

The libertarian firebrand pointed to the case of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was tried and sentenced to death, as an example of how to deal with suspected terrorists.

"Al-Awlaki was born here, he's an American citizen, he was never tried or charged for any crimes," Paul said. "To start assassinating American citizens without charges - we should think very seriously about this."

Al-Awlaki was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and lived in the United States until the age of 7, when his family returned to Yemen. He returned to the United States in 1991 for college and remained until 2002. It was during that time that as an imam in California and Virginia, al-Awlaki preached to and interacted with three of the September 11, 2001, hijackers, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. He publicly condemned the attack afterward.

U.S. officials say al-Awlaki helped recruit Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man known as the underwear bomber, who was charged with trying to blow up a transatlantic flight as it landed in Detroit on December 25, 2009. The militant cleric is also said to have exchanged e-mails with accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing a dozen fellow soldiers and a civilian in a rampage at the Texas Army post.

Paul wasn't the only Republican presidential candidate raising concerns about al-Awlaki's demise. Gary Johnson released a statement citing the Constitutions intention of giving all citizens rights.

"Let there be no doubt. We have to be vigilant, we have to protect the U.S. and U. S. citizens from terrorist attacks, and we have to aggressively pursue those who would do us harm. At the same time we cannot allow the War on Terror to diminish our steadfast adherence to the notion of due process for American citizens," he said. "The protections under the Constitution for those accused of crimes do not just apply to people we like - they apply to everyone, including a terrorist like al-Awlaki. It is a question of due process for American citizens."

Filed under: 2012 • President Obama • Ron Paul • Terrorism
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Andrew

    "If the American people accept this blindly and casually, that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys

    Obama personally assassinated him?
    Where was the outrage with Bin Laden?
    Where was Ron Paul when Bush put out the decree to kill everyone?
    Come on.....

    September 30, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. texan

    Tried in an American court ????? Are you kidding??? Look at this guy and what he was openly fermenting over the internet. And Ron Paul wants to be President !!!!!! What planet is this guy from?????

    September 30, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  3. yuri

    To legally try and waste tax payers' money on this terrorist, even if he is an American, seems rather senseless to us. Then there are the security issues of where to hold his habeus corpus and all those rigamarole. Liquidation is perhaps the best.

    September 30, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Rep. Paul, the man was no longer a US citizen. He may have been born here, but it really appears he took up citizenship elsewhere. I believe that he has also declared a holy war against the United States, which would appear to make him a legitimate target of war.

    Rep. Paul, you say that he should have been arrested, and brought before the criminal justice system, just as McVeigh was treated. But, this guy was in another country halfway around the world. How would be pick him up if we follow through on your plan to cut, what was it 90%, the military budget as you have proposed? Hmm? You sound naive and out of touch with reality, Dr. Paul.

    September 30, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. malabar

    Maybe Obama is just bloodthirsty. now where have we heard that term this month? hmmm . . .

    September 30, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. cisco4

    Oh Wow!..Ron Paul is for saving this terrorists life while denying ALL Americans medical care..and saying let em die?..I could never understand all the fervor for Paul..except maybe he likes POT...Is that what he is all about?.You are a Dr Mr. Paul.. act like one and care for the lifes of Americans..and be pro family and have medical coverage for everyone..Or is the USA government just too nasty for you?..Then leave and go to Yemen or someplace else..

    September 30, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Anonymous

    What happened to a right to a fair trial? Ron Paul 2012

    September 30, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. V in Chicago

    Ron – we don't "think" he was a bad guy – we "knew" he was a bad guy. He and his followers made several attempts to kill Americans. I for one and am very proud that the United States had a hand in bringing this international criminal / serial killer to justice.

    You know Ron, just when I think I'm starting to like you, you go and say stupid things like this. Do you really want American taxpayers paying for a long, drawn out trial for this murderer? Not to mention what it would cost us in keeping him safe until the trial. Do you think someone who initiates and preaches killing Americans (even innocent ones – his words, not mine) deserves anything less than what he got?

    Please stay away from Washington! I for one would not feel safe in my own home and country with you at the helm!

    September 30, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  9. RickM

    My Question is Why was He never Charged with a Crime ,Aiding and abeting during time of war is now and always has been Treason ,punishable by Death, thats what he did why was'nt he charged???????

    September 30, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Mike

    Good riddance.

    September 30, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. BeStill

    The criticizes that never cease to amaze me. He was the one who said just a few days ago at a debate. "Let them die, they don't deserve health coverageā€. We (not including me) shouldn't be force to pay for their insurance coverage".

    September 30, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. T. Heist

    I am sure the American people do not accept this "blindly". As far as assassinating American citizens, this man is known to be an enemy of the US and wants to kill us. He admits it himself. Being born in the United States only makes on a citizen by law. Being a true American, however, has nothing to do with where you are born, and this man is NOT an American. His allegiance lies elsewhere.

    We are now ten years out from 911. The mastermind of the 911 attacks was captured in 2003, and has admitted to a long list of crimes. 8 years since his capture; Trial? I haven't seen one yet. Anyone else?

    September 30, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Sandy

    Something tells me Repubs would be cheering this if all these terrorists were being killed under Bush's watch. They would be lauding him for keeping America safe.

    Thank you Obama! Obama 2012

    September 30, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. SaintM

    Ron Paul again shows that he is an old windbag who is clueless.

    Sorry Dr. Paul, but I don't want to pay for a trial for this terrorist. American taxpayers are paying enough money just to try criminals and keep them in jail here in the US.

    Just like Bin Laden, this guy got what he deserved. Those who promote terrorism and support the killing of innocent people do not deserve to have a continued platform, and surgically taking them out is a permanent solution. When someone threatens to kill you or innocent citizens in the world, you need to kill them sooner–before they have a chance to strike.

    September 30, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. War on Terrorism

    Military target, military mission. End of story.

    September 30, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. Greg

    Why waste American tax dollars when it's clear that this man, regardless of citizenship, is an enemy of the state?

    September 30, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. GI Joe

    He's criticising the military leaders that made the call.


    September 30, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  18. GI Joe

    Wait – they don't want terrorists tried in courts in US -- EITHER.

    Those people don't know what they want.

    WE want jobs.

    September 30, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. mb2010a

    Will this man ever learn to keep his mouth closed????

    September 30, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  20. John

    Well I think Ron Paul Is wrong on this One. He dead and American People didn't have to spend any money defending him In court. When we all know he was guilty ,because of all of the video take he put on the air telling what he did.

    September 30, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. michael

    Obama can do nothing far as the repubs and tea party whackos are concerned. The Prez could find a cure for cancer and these idiots would find something wrong to blast him about. Fear, scare tactics, disrespect, paranoia...that's the repub/tea oarty agenda. Allow the country to sink just so they can get their guy/gal elected Prez.....unbelievable.

    September 30, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  22. Anonymous

    good for him

    September 30, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  23. Laverne

    Obama would have been criticized either way, so it was the best to rid the world of this demon and why pay tax payers money on his fate anyway???

    September 30, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  24. Kevin in Atlanta

    Sadly, Paul is right about this. Al-Awlaki was a US born citizen and should have been afforded the same rights as any other citizen under the US Constitution. However, coming out and saying this is not going to help Paul's presidential campaign. And that's exactly why I respect him, he's not afraid of the wrath of his party.

    Ron Paul says what he means and he means what he says. People like that are sorely missing from Congress. Too bad the Republicans will further ignore him because of this.

    September 30, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. Just a thought

    wow...Obama could walk on water, cure cancer, and end world poverty but still be criticized.

    I have never seen a president do so much for this country, but roundly criticized at every turn. I'm waiting for these GOP/Tea Pants types to finally grow up and become patriotic americans....probably won't happen , but what is more likely, the american electorate says, ....get out, we are sick of you people

    September 30, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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