Joe: I second Ryan on this. I am no legal scholar, but it seems to me that, technically, he is not guilty of treason until he has been convicted in a court of law or some other judicial body.
Andy McCarthy’s response to Kevin Williamson is unconvincing in this regard as well. He cites the 2009 Military Commissions Act and 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force as providing the President with the authority to kill enemy combatants, but neither of these address the issue of assassinating Americans. And the Quirin decision, which he cites as a precedent, is not a precedent for assassination but for military tribunals that first convict Americans for treason before meting out the death penalty.
If Anwar Al-Awlaki is killed on the battlefield, that’s one thing, but targeting him for assassination is something else. Assassinations have a somewhat troubled legal history. No doubt, the fight against terrorism is a different kind of war that makes a situation like this difficult, but there must be a better solution than throwing out due process and overtly targeting American citizens for assassination.