Very well, I will tell you Mr. Hitchens.
I would have filed formal charges against Mr. al-Awlaki. I would have sought an indictment from a grand jury. I wold have given Mr. al-Alawki the opportunity to return home to answer the charges against him. If he failed to take advantage of the opportunity to defend himself (which he almost certainly would have) I would have tried him in absentia. I would have waited until a jury returned a guilty verdict. Then -- and only then -- I would have ordered him blown to kingdom come.
I would have done these things to show to the world that we are a nation of laws, not of the whims of men. I would have done these things to plant our flag firmly on the moral high ground. I would have done these things because they are the right thing to do.
Glen Greenwald said it best as he usually does:
[A]s the Bush years proved, the American population is well-trained to screech Kill Him!! the minute the Government points to someone and utters the word “Terrorist“ (especially when that someone is brown with a Muslim-ish name, Muslim-ish clothes, and located in one of those Bad Muslim countries). If Our Government Leaders say that someone named “Anwar al-Awlaki” — who looks like this, went to a Bad Muslim-ish place like Yemen, and speaks ill of America — is a Bad Terrorist, then that settles that. It’s time to kill him. Given those “facts,” only a “civil libertarian absolutist” would think that things like “evidence” and “trials” are needed before accepting his guilt and justifying his state-sanctioned murder.
The most ignorant claim justifying the Awlaki killing is that he committed “treason” and thus gave up citizenship; there’s this document called the “Constitution” that lays out the steps the Government is required to take before punishing a citizen for “treason” (“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“); suffice to say, it’s not met by the President secretly declaring someone guilty backed up by leaked, anonymous accusations to the press.
Worth reading the whole thing.
A final -- and telling -- quote from Hitchens:
Is a synagogue in town the next development you truly welcome in the spirit of “inclusiveness” and “diversity”?
Except he didn't use the word "synagogue" of course, he used the word "mosque." I suppose Mr. Hitchens thinks it's OK to make this invidious query about a mosque because terrorists are muslims or some such thing. Hitchens of all people should recognize this logical fallacy. Even if all terrorists are muslims (which they aren't but let's suspend disbelief for the sake of argument), it does not follow that all, or even most, muslims are terrorists, despite the fact that vast numbers of Americans are more than willing to draw that inference. Most of Hitchens's writings are dedicated to debunking such logical errors, which makes it all the more tragic that he of all people is promulgating it in this case.