- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2011

The White House was justified in ordering the air strike that killed the U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda cleric and propagandist, Dick Cheney said Sunday, but the former vice president said President Obama’s actions don’t square with the criticism he heaped on the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies.

“They need to go back and reconsider some of the criticisms they offered about our policies over the past years,” Mr. Cheney said on CNN. “He said in his Cairo speech that he had quote, ‘banned torture,’ ” Mr. Cheney said. “What he said then was inaccurate … especially in light of what they’re doing now.”

Mr. Cheney said the president’s aggressive tactics were, in essence, a continuation of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.”

“The Obama administration has clearly reached the point where theyve agreed they need to be tough and aggressive in defending the nation and using some of the same techniques that the Bush administration did,” Mr. Cheney said.

“It was a very good strike,” he said. “The president ought to have that kind of authority to order that kind of strike, even when it involves an American citizen, when there is clear evidence that hes part of al-Qaeda.”

On the same program, former Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat who served on the House Intelligence Committee before resigning earlier this year to join the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, agreed with the former vice president that the strike was justified.

“I believe there is a good case,” Mrs. Harman said.

But she said the president needs to release the legal documents that support the decision to launch the fatal drone strike that killed al-Awlaki and at least one other American-born al Qaeda member in Yemen on Friday.

President Obama last year approved an order making the 40-year-old al-Awlaki, born in New Mexico, the first American to be placed on the Central Intelligence Agency’s hit list.

U.S. officials said al-Awlaki was involved, through his al Qaeda website, in the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, that took the lives of 13 people and in the failed Christmas Day 2009 plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane.

The Obama administration’s decision to launch a lethal attack on the U.S.-born al Awlaki without due process or trial has drawn criticism from some who feel the action is a violation of U.S. and international law.

American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said the action means that “American citizens far from the battlefield can be executed without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts.”

GOP presidential contender Ron Paul, a Republican congressman from Texas, said U.S. leaders must think hard about “assassinating American citizens without charges.”

Other Republicans, such as Mr. Cheney, were supportive of the administration.

“The killing of al-Awlaki is a tremendous tribute to President Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community,” Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement Friday.

Presidential contender Mitt Romney said called the killing “a major victory.”