Should U.S. Kill Another American Al-Qaida Operative? Sen. Graham Says Yes.

American citizen and al-Qaida operative Adam Gadahn. (Photo: NCTC)

When does an American citizen give up his Constitutional rights — specifically, one who has joined al-Qaida and called for violence against the United States?

It’s a legal question two U.S. administrations have failed to clearly answer. And, it seems, does not fret much about when a U.S. citizen becomes an al-Qaida threat and is reachable with a drone-fired Hellfire missile.

See: al-Awlaki, Anwar.

And enter into the discussion Adam Gadahn, another American citizen who is now an United States-denouncing al-Qaida member. Gadahn, in a new 30-minute video, hails the al-Qaida attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, and called for more attacks on American diplomatic sites.

The U.S. government has slapped a $1 million bounty on Gadahn’s head.

“Adam Yahiye Gadahn was indicted in the Central District of California for treason and material support to al-Qaida,” according to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center. “The charges are related to Gadahn’s alleged involvement in a number of terrorist activities, including providing aid and comfort to al-Qaida and services for al-Qaida.”

Should the U.S. have an opportunity to take out Gadahn? One hawkish Republican senator who has met recently with President Barack Obama on national security matters thinks so.

“Adam Gadahn is an American citizen who has aligned himself with Al Qaeda. He should be considered an enemy combatant not a common criminal, Senate Armed Services Committee member Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday in a statement. “And even though he is an American citizen, he should be subject to being killed or captured by our military and intelligence forces. The use of lethal force against Gadahn is appropriate and should be utilized without hesitation.

Graham also believes the al-Qaida cultural analyst and spokesman, if captured by American forces, should not treated as a criminal — but as an enemy combatant.

“If captured, Gadahn should not be read his Miranda rights, but held as an enemy combatant under the Law of War for intelligence gathering purposes,” said Graham, a colonel in the Air Force Reserve’s judge advocate general’s corps. “As a senior Al-Qaeda operative his deeds and actions put our nation at risk.”

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett