Obama admin debates releasing Awlaki memo
October 10th, 2011
08:52 PM ET

Obama admin debates releasing Awlaki memo

By Sr. State Dept. Producer Elise Labott and Sr. Producer Carol Cratty

Justice Department memo made the case that the United States could legally kill U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki if it was not possible to capture him alive, a senior U.S. official who has read the memo told CNN Monday.

The memo, reported Sunday in the most extensive detail yet by the New York Times, was prepared in the summer of 2010. Al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen on September 30 of this year.

The official said the classified memo, the product of months of interagency deliberations involving top lawyers from the National Security Council, State Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies, argued that though al-Awlaki was an American citizen, he met the definition of a lawful target in Congress' authorization to use force against al-Qaeda enacted after 9/11.

Though al-Awlaki wasn't on the "hot battlefield" of Afghanistan, the fact he was an operational figure in al-Qaeda and was planning attacks against Americans gave the United States legal justification to use force to defend itself against him, the memo argued. It also said that the United States had the right to take unilateral action in Yemen if Yemeni government officials were unable or unwilling to capture or kill him themselves, the official said.

U.S. officials say al-Awlaki recruited Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the Nigerian man known as the underwear bomber, who was charged with trying to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight as it landed in Detroit on December 25, 2009.

The militant cleric was also said to have exchanged e-mails with accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused of killing a dozen fellow soldiers in Texas.

The official said the memo was narrowly defined to apply to the case of al-Awlaki and not to offer a new, broad legal doctrine intended to justify the killing of any other Americans believed to pose a terrorist threat.

Another senior official said there is a debate within the administration about whether to disclose its legal rationale. Some are arguing for more disclosure, while others contend that, because the legal argument refers to covert actions that involve national security interests, it should not be disclosed, the official said.

The terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has confirmed al-Awlaki's death calling him a martyr, according to a statement posted Sunday on jihadi Internet forums.

American officials said Internet postings following his death indicated many who share his ideas did not believe he had been killed and were seeking confirmation. The attack also killed another American, named Samir Khan, and two other people, officials said. Khan was co-editor of Inspire, the terrorist network's English-language online propaganda and recruiting magazine.

The AQAP "eulogy" states that, while the United States may have killed al-Awlaki, it "cannot kill his ideas," according to an English translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi forums.

The statement also picks up on a theme discussed in the United States: whether the United States had the right to target and kill al-Awlaki without a legal trial and guilty verdict. The controversy is complicated by the fact al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen.

The message said the United States killed al-Awlaki and Khan but "did not prove the accusation against them, and did not present evidence against them." The statement says such actions go against values espoused by the United States.

In Sunday's message, AQAP also promised to "retaliate soon" for the deaths of al-Awlaki and the three others. After the killings, the United States issued a "worldwide" alert warning of "the potential for retaliation against U.S. citizens and interests."

Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, al-Awlaki 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.

During his stay in the United States, he served as imam in California and Virginia, and interacted with three of the men who went on to become September 11, 2001, hijackers, according to the 9/11 Commission report. He publicly condemned the attack afterward.

soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. drawn querterly

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    May 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  2. John Smith JR

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    February 5, 2012 at 8:41 am | Reply
  3. Bangalorean

    A BOLD Move.
    It’s only proper to use force against those who prey on the innocent in the name of religion or political beliefs.
    Good Job guys.... Keep it up.
    Justice is a debatably hypocritical idea.
    Justice simply Isn't, It's self/community preservation and due process should not be an EXCUSE for criminals/terrorists to hide behind when their own ass is on the line.....
    I Hope some misguided Hippies from the human rights side don’t get to use this as an excuse.

    If all life is so precious, why don’t the terrorists think about it before planning/killing innocent people.....
    An eye for an eye maybe a crude term but it is effective against people who have no morality or human decency...

    There are people without decency and limitation and they must be fought without leniency and hesitation.

    October 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  4. Lisa Merriam

    One thing that can be confirmed is that Awlaki's death is the end of the end of al Qaeda: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2011/10/06/the-al-qaeda-brand-died-last-week/

    October 11, 2011 at 11:19 am | Reply
  5. The_Mick

    I don't know why the Administration is bothered about this. Don't they realize how bad politicians look in the eyes of the vast majority of Americans when they say the White shouldn't have killed al-Awlaki?

    October 11, 2011 at 7:38 am | Reply
  6. Jim Weix

    Although al-Awlaki wasn't on the "hot battlefield" of Afghanistan, the fact he was an operational figure in al-Qaeda and was planning attacks against Americans gave the United States legal justification to use force to defend itself against him. The terrorist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has confirmed al-Awlaki's death calling him a martyr, according to a statement posted Sunday on jihadi Internet forums.
    Enough said. Glad he is dead. May his defenders in the United States join him.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:50 am | Reply
    • Rachell

      Do you have any proof at all that this man was working for Al Qaeda? Because as far as I can tell, the "proof" consists entirely of government accusations. Keep in mind that this man was a US citizen and was not CHARGED with a single crime. Everyone keeps tossing the word " treason" around, but he was never charged with the crime itself. Yes he said mean and nasty thing about the USA, but our first amendment protections allow for a person to speak their mind. Even calling for violence against the people of your homeland is protected speech (see Brandenberg v Ohio). so basically what it comes down to is the US killing one of its own without any type of due process because he was exercising his first amendment rights. I know this will be an unpopular statement, but ask yourself how you would feel the next time some rightwinger calls for the new york times to be blown up, or for a doctor who performs abortions to be killed, if that person was suddenly stripped of their right of free speech and tossed in jail or worse, killed. Even Tim McVeigh had his day in court and he actually murdered people. i would definitely like to see this memo released since apparently Obama can give the finger to the constitution any time he feels it necessary. All you have to do is have the government label someone dangerous and america's citizens will not care one lick for any evidence, they will support the killing of one of their own simply based on a unsubstantiated government claim, like good little authoritarians.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:23 am | Reply
    • The_Mick

      Jim, I was with you until you called for death to Americans who don't agree with you. THAT is un-American.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:47 am | Reply
  7. larvadog

    What part of "nor shall any person...be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" don't you relativists understand?

    If you can't understand plain English you probably ought not to be commenting on the legality of government assassinations of US citizens.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:27 am | Reply
    • doogz

      Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

      The Underwear Bomber and the Fort Hood Shooter are my witnesses. He would have never been captured alive and it possibly would have taken years for the government to even plan his successful capture. This was a legally just act.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:30 am | Reply
    • L Kei

      So let me get this straight.

      We're supposed to bring war criminals to trial during a time of war, before we're allowed to kill them at all costs? So for example. Soldiers on a convoy encounter IEDs on the roadside, and upon detonation, are ambushed by a group of American-born Al Qaeda operatives. A firefight ensues. We're supposed to capture them alive before taking them out, so they can't continue to harm us?

      It is a fine line. However. A trial wouldn't have helped Awlaki, I assure you. He was sitting in Afghanistan plotting. It doesn't matter if he wasn't a 'combatant' at the time. These people, the radicals who run these terrorist cells (which is EXACTLY what Awlaki was doing), do NOTHING but sit around and come up with ideas on how to kill others. They are a constant danger, whether they have a gun in their hand or not.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:37 am | Reply
      • Pixie

        I see the words "war criminal" and "treason" being thrown about, but here's what we know: This man Al Awlaki was not CHARGED with a crime, thus he is not a "war criminal". He did not attack any of our soliders and is not "at war" with the US. Unless we have declared war with Yemen while I was unaware of it. He was a US citizen (he did not renounce his citizenship, nor did the things he said automatically strip him of citizenship – there are criteria which have to be met for this to happen and nothing Awlaki said/did fit any of these) and he was assassinated without even being charged with a crime. Think about that people. An American was KILLED because he said something the US government did not LIKE. How can you be ok with that? Maybe you didn't like what he said either, but he had a right to his opinions. How would you feel if a drone blew up Glenn Beck's house because he wished death on someone? Can you not see what a dangerous precedent this sets for our country when our own government can have you killed without disclosing the reason to you or your family? To deprive a person of their day in court is to strip our country of our 5 amendment protections. If you support what happened to Al Awlaki on its legal face, then you would also have to support the US government firebombing right wing militia compounds (bad guys that preach destruction of the US gov, stockpile arms and kill citizens/cops). It is the SAME thing.

        October 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  8. mike

    Only thing i wonder about – how will the government now look upon the backwood militia's that are poping up in the backwoods of the U.S.? They also spew their disapproval/distrust of the government, they probably go so far as figuring how to fight against it as well. Do they also fall under the survelliance of the drones, waiting for the moment that they push the agenda one inch too far? Thats the scarey thing about remote contolled bots...

    October 11, 2011 at 4:22 am | Reply
    • Dominator

      100% correct about the real issue here...

      The US can't deploy the army inside the borders – but what about these drones? They are run by the CIA – which can operate inside the US. Can you image a drone attack on a Ruby Ridge or Waco Compound? I can... With the protests going on and the polarization of America we are going to see more and more extremist groups and they will get more violent as the New Great Depression grows.

      Globalization – which was pushed by both the left and right – will cause America to destroy itself. Why? Because there is only so much wealth in the world and when you try to bring up the third world via globalization somebody has to come down – and since it won't be the rich it will be the middle class in the West – specifically in America. Then you factor in the great divide between the rich and poor and you have a powder keg waiting to explode. I just wish people would understand what has really got us here – and then reverse or slow it down – then we could avoid larger problems. However – based on the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street nonsense it is clear to me most people – likely 99% – have no idea why we are where we are nor how to correct it.

      October 12, 2011 at 10:34 am | Reply
  9. RLC_1975

    And to all of the empty places at the dinner tables across America (The land of the free because of the brave!) at the hands of AQ, rest in peace my brothers.....Justice has been served swiftly

    October 11, 2011 at 4:08 am | Reply
  10. RLC_1975

    This guy was not a combatant as part of a world recognized military, he was a terrorist and traitor. He did not have any Geneva convention rights. At least us taxpayers dont have to pay for him to sit in a can for decades while the legal surroundings get sorted out, just like Osama bin Laden. They have been taken out, and dumped for the garbage they are

    October 11, 2011 at 3:58 am | Reply
  11. edvhou812

    Only a naive do-gooder or terrorist would morn this Al-Alwaki's death. His death was the best use of a drone yet.

    October 11, 2011 at 3:58 am | Reply
  12. RLC_1975

    As far as I'm concerned Anwar al-Awlaki renounced his US Citizenship the moment that he moved to Yemen and went to work for AQAP. He became a traitor to his own country and received the death he deserved. Is he a martyr, no, is he a war criminal, yes....

    October 11, 2011 at 3:09 am | Reply
  13. Fred S.

    Voting never solved anything. If the USgov wants to kill somebody, they just do it. Neither Bush nor O'Bam seem to arrange for many trials, Harvard Law School or no Harvard law School. I just want to see who actually planned the World Trade Centre conspiracy (long range military plan?). We don't expect real, actual freedom in a carefully disguised police state.

    October 11, 2011 at 3:00 am | Reply
  14. Seth Hill of Topanga, California

    I'm one of those bleeding heart liberals you conservative love to insult. But in my opinion, when we're at war, and an enemy is shooting at us ... we darn well better shoot him, and fast!

    October 11, 2011 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • Fred S.

      Sure, NSA, you're a real Liberal. You'd just like to kill a lotta o' them goddam creeps in the funny hats.
      So go ahead and join up. Who's stoppin' ya?

      October 11, 2011 at 2:46 am | Reply
    • nerosf1ddle

      Now that legal precedent has been established for assassinating a U.S. Citizen by executive order and with complete impunity. The requisite required for such an action, according to the administration is "being a bad guy". Now if Obama concludes that he may lose the election...Well, those political rivals they're starting to look like some pretty bad guys.

      October 11, 2011 at 3:02 am | Reply
      • Brian Hartman

        The difference between a terrorist and a political opponent is not a small one, and it's not lost on most people. I agree "bad guy" is not a workable definition, but clearly this was a man at war with the United States. There's really no difference between sending an elite force to kill one enemy and sending infantry to kill dozens of the enemy.

        October 11, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  15. altee11

    Charging with treason may have been interesting. That is a reasonable question, particularly if it could be done with him in absentia.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:16 am | Reply
  16. altee11

    Awlaki sent multiple attacks our way. Case closed. We have his pronouncements. We have his conversations. We have testimony from two of the people he sent our way to kill us. This is also a case where he is acting like a general, but by simply trying to push buttons to encourage attacks. Since he did all this, he was clearly firing at us. We don't need any more proof. Why is anyone trying to help people like Awlaki get away with his effort to kill us?

    October 11, 2011 at 2:08 am | Reply
    • Fred S.

      Personally, I don't care if Alawky kills you, drop dead.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:42 am | Reply
  17. Bob

    How far does this go? If any "enemy" points a gun at a soldier, bombs a convoy or attempts to take control of a plane we have to ask them if they if they are a US citizen first and then decide how to proceed?
    Should we have risked the deaths of FBI agents in an attempt to arrest him? I would think there are "legal restrictions" as to who can arrest him too.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:41 am | Reply
  18. Bob

    You bleeding hearts make e crazy, if we would have put 20 marines on the ground to "capture" this guy and one was killed you would have a problem with that too. When you declared war on America and try a blow up passenger planes, you die. It's very simple, maybe we should send them fruit baskets so they will all like us and let our citizens travel on airplanes. We could have Obama go back over there and bow to them AGAIN....make em love us.. Give em all healthcare. Give them all unemployment benefits... "rest in piss".... Damn straight...

    October 11, 2011 at 1:37 am | Reply
  19. huxley

    Why didn't we just arrest him during the 20 years he was living in the United States or the nearly 10 years he was living in the UK? We had every opportunity to arrest him, but instead we chose to assassinate him.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:15 am | Reply
    • MAKO 10

      Two reasons he was an American Citizen, thus forcing more concern to move on him. The more likely reason. He was actually so valuable of an intel source for us that we let him live to watch and listen and follow him in hopes of him exposing rank and structure or leading to additional major blows against Al Qaeda. If you think we don't do that you're wrong. We also would never, ever take all the political risks and extreme fortune in money to hit these guys with a UCAV in Yemen, none the less. I praise it as a good move in the right direction, terrorists can't hide behind boarders or nations which harbor them. We will find you and hunt you down worldwide. God Bless America.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:33 am | Reply
  20. bluemax77

    What’s the problem..? Can’t we stand the truth..??

    October 11, 2011 at 12:56 am | Reply
  21. Nick

    Imagine that you are sitting home one day and the police bust into your house, arrest you, and cart you off to be detained at the station. Right before they put you behind bars they tell you that you are guilty of raping your next door neighbor and that they have good evidence for it. When you ask for a lawyer, they say "No." When you ask for them to show you the evidence or explain what reasonable cause they have to suspect you to be guilty, they say "That's classified information." They then drive you over to one of the city prisons where you will spend the next 10 years of your life. If you endorse killing Al-Awlaki in this way, then you endorse everything that happened in this scenario. The Fifth Amendment and the rule of law are just words on paper.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:42 am | Reply
    • Rick

      Nick, your mixing things up badly. First off, being assinated is a lot worse than spending 10 years in prison. Second, you left out some pretty significant factual issues. He wasn't in the US or reachable under normal legal means so your domestic rape analogy is just way, way off. He was accused of terrorism which is very different than a simple rape or even murder synario occuring on US soil. There is arguably enabling legislation that will allow a "terrorist" to be treated very differently than a "regular criminal".
      Your analogy is so far off basis it really has no application and is a disservice to the actual Constitutional argument. Does the Constition allow the assination of a US citizen without benefit of trial? He could have been tried in abstencia here before any action was taken but wasn't probably due to the timing issue and the exegency of the situation. Does that make it ok? Probably not, they should have gone in and snatched him and then tried him. It appears that thought that wasn't worth the time, effort and political/international fallout. Doesn't make it right but understandable I suppose.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:17 am | Reply
  22. Danger...

    While in some cases claiming national security as the reason you won't disclose information is reasonable, this one seems far too important. We need to demand to know more about what went on here because the precedent can affect us all. Were all attempts made to follow the rule of law? What concrete evidence was used as rationale? Which agencies were responsible and was there any oversight? We need to ask these questions because this is a perilous road to where the rights of Americans will be abused. Our government is not all-caring and only does the right thing. If they are given such power, they will abuse it.

    October 11, 2011 at 12:31 am | Reply
  23. alex

    whether the government had the right to kill him withouth due process or not doesn't matter. he's not a citizen of anything but hell now

    October 11, 2011 at 12:22 am | Reply
  24. Stomamaker

    Rest In Piss

    October 11, 2011 at 12:21 am | Reply
  25. Matt

    You have the United States target assassination of a United States Citizen who had no trial or conviction or due process. He was put on a list by a organization that has no defined rules governing it or legal means which grants operations. I'm not, as if most people saying that he might not of deserved what he got but there is a rule of law, and due process that is granted under the Constitution of which not only the President but Congress swore to up hold against foreign and domestic threats. Why are new organizations jumping all over this??

    October 11, 2011 at 12:17 am | Reply
    • Matt

      * why are they not jumping all over this?

      October 11, 2011 at 12:19 am | Reply
  26. Unbelievable!

    He was a Terrorist on a LARGE Scale! I'm glad the US had the will & courage to do this. I hope that the various legal memos are Not released as Wiki-Leaks has done us immeasurable damage! Thankfully the Obama Administration has shown the Courage & Leadership we've not seen in a while. Now if They would only STOP making so many international concessions blocking out our True Friends thru the years! These 'lovers' in EU (reviving Roman Empire), China, Russia & M.E. are going to come back and hurt us Big Time! If ONLY Americans would get back their FAITH, turn to our Creator/God, we might be able to save ourselves & our wonderful country! I don't mean the False lip-service by majority of Republicans, but true repentance & humbleness. I'm not referring to "Religion", as that's what's created most problems from the beginning of time. I'm talking following the path of Righteousness, Piousness, LOVE, & Toleration of those which are Good & Righteous, but with different beliefs! We are in Major Trouble if we don't get the lying, philandering, bigoted, unGodly (not of Good, but of Evil) OUT of office! Wake-Up America, especially Republicans!! We are All given the choice of Right/Wrong; Good/Evil. Though "Religion" has no place in Politics, Character, Morals & Values Certainly DO! Actions speak louder than words. Freedom is a given! Dictatorship from "Religious Zealots" is Not what we need. True Goodness & Turning from our Wicked, Greedy ways is our only hope. Please go to http://www.dccc.org & sign petition and/or write criminal Bohener Not to end SS & raise Medicare premiums. TEAGOPS are eliminating our middle class & hurting poverty stricken even more. It's DIGRACEFUL that these folks call themselves "Christians"! Those who support them are as bad, ifnot worse!

    October 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  27. CNN 'journalists' = Sensationalists

    CNN, the infotainment and enemy propaganda station.

    October 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  28. DreWhite

    Breaking News and I just hope this does not get censored. In a shocking development in the trial of the accused underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Delta Flight 253 eyewitness Kurt Haskell has been called by Abdulmutallab as a witness for the defense, a move that could blow the whole case wide open.
    Detroit Lawyer Haskell has been a prominent skeptic of the government’s official version of events, having witnessed a well-dressed man help Abdulmutallab clear security before the incident on Christmas Day 2009 despite the fact that the bomber had no passport, in addition to the fact that his own father had warned U.S. intelligence officials of the threat posed by Abdulmutallab a month before the attempted attack.
    During his interview on the Alex Jones Show today, Haskell pointed out that if Abdulmutallab chooses to reveal what he knows about the entire plot, it could be more damaging to the Obama administration than the Fast and Furious scandal, and would undermine the entire foundation of the war on terror and the TSA grope downs and body scans that were introduced in the aftermath of the event.
    Abdulmutallab could reveal which intelligence agents gave him the dud bomb, while also lifting the lid on the role of Anwar al-Awlaki, who as we have documented was clearly a double agent posing as an Al-Qaeda leader while doing the bidding of the US intelligence community.
    Aware that his involvement in the case and his assertions of government complicity in the aborted attack could put his life in danger, Haskell made it clear on air that he was not planning on committing suicide.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Reply
    • Seth Hill of Topanga, California

      My sources tell me that he was actually a triple-agent, working for Al Qaeda by pretending to work for the CIA by pretending to work for Al Qaeda. However, I cannot reveal my sources at this time.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:35 am | Reply
  29. BAN THE KORAN

    wake up america....islam is evil.....just start looking at the islamization of Europe

    Islam is the new Nazi, it must be stamped out. Preaching it forbiden, its hate filled literature banned, it's symbols made illegal

    Islam is Nazi with a new suit. Same old totalitarian rubbish. Its time to stop this multicultural rubbish. Some societies and ideas are not equal to our values, some are inferior. We dont need to respect the ravings of some desert nomad from seventh century.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Reply
  30. Matt

    A bunch of liberal organizations are the ones questioning it. Look it up. ACLU is one of the main ones.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Reply
  31. Bill

    No need getting upset over actors and sim-people.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  32. brown

    We had this same type of B.S. before 9/11. Did we learn anything from it?

    October 10, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  33. Rich

    The obvious solution to this problem is massive tax cuts for the super rich.

    October 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  34. itsover

    In war combatants get killed…don’t declare you’re at war with the USA and you’ll not have to worry about them killing you….simple enough!

    October 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  35. George

    Who is questioning this killing? Forget about it. He's dead, he was an enemy in a war.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Reply
    • JB

      A lot of Americans are questioning the way it was done because people like you just sit back and accept it. We're questioning it so that when you do something to annoy the government you aren't turned into a crater and declared "an enemy of war."

      October 11, 2011 at 12:34 am | Reply
    • DCBill

      Tru dat.

      He chose to conduct warlike acts and paid the inevitable price.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:31 am | Reply
    • Fred S.

      That goes double for those goddaqm traitors in the Confederacy. They should have all been executed. Kablouie! Any people in the South celebratin' should be rounded up and sent to prison for treason. Once Lee and Davis surrenda that's it – kill 'em. They were enemies in a war.

      October 11, 2011 at 1:57 am | Reply
      • altee11

        If Awlkaiki and his supporters had surrendered as the Confederates did, they would not have been killed. You must work much more mightily than this to create a good argument.

        October 11, 2011 at 2:15 am |
  36. ER

    Why didn't we ever charge Awlaki with treason? We wouldn't even be having this debate if we had and he had been convicted. He wouldn't have been a citizen anymore.

    October 10, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Reply
    • altee11

      It's a reasonable question, but if during the trial he successfully launched another attack, the consequences could have been horrible for us in the USA.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:17 am | Reply
    • Bill C

      The U.S. Constitution states:
      "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

      The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."

      Note that only the actual execution of the treasonous act will get you convicted, merely planning treason will not. The difficulty of conviction was deliberate. Still, from what I gather U.S. intel had more than enough evidence to meet the requirements. Why indeed? I doubt he would have been in a position to launch an attack during his own treason trial.

      October 11, 2011 at 3:10 am | Reply

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