During a town hall meeting at the University of New Hampshire on Monday, Congressman Ron Paul said an “impeachment process would be possible” against Barack Obama. The Republican presidential candidate said charges could be filed over the killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, a high-ranking al-Qaeda figure who was killed by an American drone in Yemen.
“Al-Awlaki was born here. He is an American citizen,” Paul said. “He was never tried or charged for any crimes…But 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.”
Although federal agents have sought al-Awlaki since the Clinton administration, and the Authorization for the Use of Force passed following 9/11 allows the president to kill anyone he “determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11,” al-Awlaki’s birth in the United States has many debating the proper interplay between national security and civil liberties.
Paul is not the only Republican presidential candidate to have criticized the Obama administration’s handling of al-Awlaki. Governor Gary Johnson, who served as governor of the state where al-Awlaki was born, said: “I don’t want to minimize at all the threat that he was posing to the United States. But he is a U.S. citizen, he was a U.S. citizen, and never before have we targeted a U.S. citizen for death.”
Meanwhile, Herman Cain flip-flopped on the issue. In May, he responded to a question about the president’s kill list by saying: “I don’t believe that the president of the United States should order the assassination of citizens of the United States. That’s why we have our court system, and that’s why we have our laws.” However, this weekend’s TeaCon Midwest in Chicago, Cain told bloggers he now supported the action.
However, Paul acknowledged his strict constructionist views of the Constitution would impeach more than just Obama. “I just said almost every president I’ve known I’d probably have to vote for impeachment, because there’s very little respect for the Constitution,” he said, “and certainly there’s no respect for the Constitution for assassinating American citizens.”