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. John A.

    I just lost much of my respectful for Rep. Ron Paul over his comments. Try him in a US Court, indeed! Hah...the American Criminal Justice System would house him, feed him, and protect his rights for the rest of his life at a cost of approximately &85,000 per year...all while he continues his recruiting within the prison. Now, he is in no position to recruit anything or anybody!

    September 30, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  2. Jacob

    How dare Dr. Paul criticize the Nobel Peace winner for assassinating someone! Clearly Obama kills people in the name of peace and global stability. Wait, that sounds eerily similar to George W. Bush. Yikes, guess ole G-dub is in line for a Peace prize now as well.

    September 30, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Ex-GOP Con

    So now the


    birthers are siding with terrorists simply because they dislike the President? How traitorous can this group get? This same groups hate spending....unless they are the ones doing the spending. It's time to fire these GOPTEA hypocrites.

    September 30, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Dan, Tx

    Conservatives like Paul continue to coddle terrorists. They are trying to kill us, we have every right to kill people who are actively engaged in trying to kill innocent Americans and who say they are at war with us. Once you get a republican in power, they will open this country up to terrorist attacks on a weekly basis. We need to keep America's defenses strong and let the terrorists know we will kill them whereever they are. Vote for strong defense, vote for the democrats.

    September 30, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  5. vet in tx

    This along with condoning a nuclear iran is why paul will not win. Add Levine snd limbaugh sealing the deal, hes toast

    September 30, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Bill

    Paul is a joke.

    September 30, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    didn't former President Bush say "you're either with US or you're with the terrorist"? I know somebody in the GOP has to disagree with President Obama on EVERYTHING even when an enemy of the country is taken down, but this is becoming somewhat STUPID!

    September 30, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. newmoon2

    In theory, yes, it would have been nice to put him on trial. But that would have required capturing him, extraditing him, and actually GETTING him here. Then we have the process of housing and feeding him, keeping him secure (from other inmates as well as from his brethren who would no doubt attempt to free him) and it would have been a very expensive circus.

    To Dr. Paul I say, grow up. Our country has ALWAYS been in the assassination business. We used to just keep it quiet.

    September 30, 2011 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    @GI Joe:

    My head spins trying to keep up with the inconsistent statements and criticism coming from the GOP/TeaPers. It really does. Well said.

    September 30, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. GI Joe

    When his son goes over and grabs one of them by the neck and brings him back, we can hold a trial. This idiot needs to quit showing his ignorance (though his genes do come through loud and clear with that nutjob son of his).

    September 30, 2011 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. Woman In California

    This man scares me more than ALL the others combined. Somewhere behind those beady little eyes is a lot of hate and resentment. He wants to be president for one reason and that is to return American to the "golden" Jim Crow laws of the past and put minorities "back in their place". I hope after he LOSES this time it will be the last of this maniac's rantings and ravings. Believe me – this man belongs NOWHERE near the WH.

    September 30, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. TN4RP

    Kevin in Atlanta, you're exactly right.

    "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 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. GI Joe

    Both Pauls are AGAINST THE U.S. - that makes them traitors.

    September 30, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Afar as I'm concerned, any American citizen who choses to take up arms against their country and has masterminded attempts to kill their fellow Americans has forfeited the right to a trial in this country. Paul is living in a fantasy world if he thinks this monster was entitled to a jury trial: my tax dollars have already been spent on drones, so why spend more on a trial where he can become another symbol for the loons that hate us? Another religious nut job gone, and good riddance.

    September 30, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. DA

    You know what everyone is right and wrong on this it is just a matter of ones individual beliefs!!

    September 30, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Savvy

    Dr. Paul, you just lost the last bit of my support.

    September 30, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. vic , nashville ,tn

    One side government spending out of control other side he saying American-born Muslim cleric should have been tried in a U.S. court. Now he wants to spend money on terrorist legal fees
    War on terrorism big tab on our budget Obama removing the terrorist form earth so we can save money in future

    September 30, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. James

    Ron Paul just put All the nails in his coffin.. See ya.

    September 30, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. John

    I'm a little confused by the people here saying that "Obama would be criticized even if he cured cancer". I think they are implying that he has done something positive by assassinating this man.

    Killing a US citizen that hasn't even been charged with a crime is not legal, no matter what or who he "inspired". Ron Paul is correct: this is very, very troubling. A major motivation for creating this country was that our king was having people killed without charge. History is repeating itself.

    September 30, 2011 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. Carrotroot

    Comparing McVeigh to al-Awlaki is like comparing apples to oranges. McVeigh lived in our back yard, he was still under the umbrella of US jurisdiction when he was brought to justice. Al-Awlaki, on the other-hand was living in Yemen a country which does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Sending in police to arrest him is not a practical option.

    September 30, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Big George in Big D

    This man wants to be POTUS?? What a nut job!

    September 30, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Let's get rational now

    Ron and Rand are living proof that the gene pool sometimes needs to end at the father. Every time Ron opens his mouth the sum total of human knowledge goes down 1 percent. Same with his son. Both are filled with lame, goofy, unrealistic ideas that could not even survive if they were elected president. History will not remember either of these fools. If it does it will remember them as shouters of weird theories that no one but a few diehards and tea partiers listened to and most everyone ignored.

    September 30, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. Hmm

    Wow it seems like a lot of people are blind. Do you not understand why Ron Paul is criticizing this move? It's because of the precedent it sets. The Obama administration unilaterally decided this U.S. citizen was a terrorist and imposed judgment and retribution on him. While in this case the man was a terrorist, the precedent is dangerous for the future. What's to keep the U.S. government from declaring political activists as terrorists in the future? This isn't about "coddling" terrorists. It's about keeping our federal government in line instead of being stupid or blindly accepting everything they do while we skip down the road to tyranny.

    September 30, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I hope after he LOSES this time it will be the last of this maniac's rantings and ravings. Believe me – this man belongs NOWHERE near the WH."

    I agree with you absolutely. Unfortunately, we have Dandy-Randy waiting in the backroom ready to take over for Papa Paul when the time comes. Apple didn't fall from the Paul family tree, no doubt about it.

    September 30, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. sue

    What????? the Republicans don't want these terrorists tried in American Courts they want them to be tried in Military Courts and then it would be another fight between repbs. and dems as to who is right and who is wrong as to where this man should be just kill them and spare this country the turmoil and waste of money it would take to try this terrorist.....Bravo for Obama......

    September 30, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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