On Al-Awlaki Killing, It's Paul and Cain Versus Santorum and Bachmann

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 3 2011 2:52 PM

On Al-Awlaki Killing, It's Paul and Cain Versus Santorum and Bachmann

Did the United States break the law when Anwar al-Awlaki was targeted and killed by a drone? I think we have our first bona fide foreign policy dispute between Republicans in a few weeks. The Right Scoop points to a video of Herman Cain, from May, answering a question about whether Al-Alawki

should have been the subject of a kill order.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

No, because he's an American citizen. If he's an American citizen, which is the big difference, then he should be charged, and he should be brought to justice.
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Cain is riding high right now. Struggling a bit: Michele Bachmann, whose initial statement on the killing raised no questions about its legality.

As one of the most-wanted terrorists, al-Awlaki was linked to the tragic and deadly shooting at Fort Hood, and was connected to a failed attempt to bomb a U.S. bound passenger jet on Christmas Day 2009. I want to applaud and thank our men and women in uniform, and those who gather intelligence, for their brave and sacrificial work. We know that enemies of freedom, like al-Awlaki, are relentlessly bent on the destruction of our great country.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum -- Proudly Taking Every Opportunity to Attack His Foes Since 1990 -- takes a swing at Ron Paul over his position, which was the same as Cain's.

Awlaki’s actions against the US effectively renounced his citizenship, and he could and should be treated like any other terrorist. This is the time to call on Congress and the President to amend the Immigration and Naturalization Act to provide for a renunciation of citizenship by action.

Santorum and Bachmann are marching toward also-ran territory. Cain and Paul have the most resilient support in the GOP field. Meanwhile, Romney and Perry are able to elide the discussion altogether. Another week, another example of the shattered Republican foreign policy consensus.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.