October 5, 2011

Regarding the Oct. 1 news story about the assassination of al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki “In secret memo, Justice Department sanctioned strike”:

I had been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union since the administration of the first George Bush. However, my conviction that the ACLU was dangerously wrong in contending that Mr. Awlaki’s killing violates the U.S. Constitution and international law forced me to withdraw my support.

The militant fanatics of al-Qaeda have, in effect, declared the entire planet a war zone, since they are prepared to attack us anywhere, and at any time, they can. Nor were we ever likely to be able to extradite Mr. Awlaki from Yemen, a U.S. “ally” in name only. Arresting and trying Mr. Awlaki would have been nice, but in the real world it just wasn’t going to happen.  

Mr. Awlaki had declared himself our enemy. In killing him when and where it could, the United States did what was possible rather than what was preferable. The ACLU should remember that we live in a highly imperfect world.  

John W. Floars, Woodbridge

It seems that The Post editorial board has become so accustomed to killing as a means of achieving U.S. security objectives that the targeted assassination of U.S. citizens by executive decision is “both legally and morally” justified [“A justified killing,” editorial, Oct. 1]. However, it also seems that the justification is solely determined by the target, not the process. What will The Post and others say when the same process results in the death of a target they do not deem worthy of assassination? 

Few things we do as a nation tell us more about ourselves than our acceptance of giving in to our basest instincts when the high road fails to yield predetermined desirable results. This is a sure sign of a nation in decline.

Larry Beck, Kensington

The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki raised important issues about balancing the rights of American citizens against the need of the United States to defend itself.

However, al-Qaeda — by blowing up U.S. embassies in Africa, damaging a U.S. Navy destroyer, and crashing passenger jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as other similar acts — has proved beyond doubt that it is a great danger to the United States. The U.S. government would have been foolhardy not to have taken the steps it has taken. Until all known members of al-Qaeda and its cooperating organizations completely and credibly abandon their inexcusable conduct and aims, or are killed or imprisoned, it would be foolish not to continue to take similar steps in the future.

Theodore R. Jackson, Chevy Chase