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Why Not Execute the Underwear Bomber?

2012 February 16

Reading about today’s sentencing of “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab I can’t help wondering if anyone feels a twinge of cognitive dissonance.  After all, Abdulmutallab has been given due process and will now serve his time in a federal prison.  Meanwhile, the American who supposedly assisted Abdulmutallab in hatching his scheme in the first place, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed via a drone plane back in September, with nothing resembling due process.

Indeed, when one reads about what al-Awlaki was supposed to have done concretely to deserve being killed by a drone (along with his son), the “underwear bomber” scheme is invariably exhibit A in the list of outrages.  Thus we face the odd spectacle of a system in which the guy who actually tried to carry out a terrorist act, Abdulmutallab, goes through the bells and whistles of an American judicial process, and the guy who merely green-lighted the attack, Awlaki, is simply vaporized.  Why not kill Abdulmutallab too?  It’s hard to know, any more, why the government pays attention to due process in any given case, since due process is no longer regarded as a universal right for citizens.

 

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