Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday supported the Obama administration decision to authorize the assassination of an American Muslim cleric who is considered to be a leader of al Qaeda operations in Yemen.
New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki is believed to be the spiritual guide of an Army major suspected of carrying out the Fort Hood shootings and the Nigerian man who tried to explode a bomb aboard a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day.
U.S. officials this week confirmed that the administration has approved a plan to capture or kill al-Awlaki, who is believed to be in hiding in Yemen, his father’s native country.
“That [decision] is perfectly consistent with the rules,” Mr. Mukasey told The Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio talk show. He cited a 1953 Supreme Court ruling as supporting such a policy.
Mr. Mukasey, however, criticized the Obama administration decision to try the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in a U.S. court instead of a military tribunal.
“It is counterproductive for us take people who have not abided by any of the laws of war and treat them better than if they have abided by the laws,” said Mr. Mukasey, who as a judge presided over terrorist trials in New York City before becoming attorney general in 2007.
Mr. Mukasey, who recently wrote a booklet called “How Obama has Mishandled the War on Terror,” said the administration does not have a comprehensive policy on fighting terrorism. “It’s just a series of sound bites,” he said.