Back in May, Herman Cain answered a few questions from Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic dealing with Libya and civil liberties issues. Cain’s answers on the USA PATRIOT Act were disappointing; and quite frankly, showed a severe lack of respect for the Fourth Amendment, especially for someone that supposedly wants to restore the Constitution.
Oddly though, Cain rejected the idea of a president authorizing the death of American citizen, as in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, without due process guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. Here the relevant part of the interview (Friedersdorf’s questions are in bold):
President Obama has said that he has the authority to assassinate American citizens if he’s declared them an enemy combatant in the War on Terror. Al Awlaki is one guy who is on the official government list where he can be taken out. Do you have any thoughts on that? Is it a good policy because it allows us to take out Americans who may have joined Al Qaeda? Or is it a bad policy-
Well first of all, this is the first that I have heard - you’re saying it’s okay to take out American citizens if he suspects they are terrorist related. Is that what you said?!
Yes, that’s what I said.
I’ve got to be honest with you. I have not heard that. I had not heard that’s something that he said. I don’t believe that the president of the United States should order the assassination of citizens of the United States. That’s why we have our court system, and that’s why we have our laws. Even if the person is suspected of being affiliated with terrorism, if they are a citizen of this country, they still deserve the rights of this country, which includes due process. Osama bin Laden was not a citizen of the United States of America. So I would not have changed the decision the president made in that regard. But if you’re a citizen, no, it is not right for the president to to think he has the power to have you assassinated. No. He has the power to make sure you’re locked up, but you have to go through due process.
What about other people who are locked up? Where should we try terrorists when we capture them? Military tribunals? The court system?
I firmly believe it should be military tribunals. I don’t believe we should clog up our court system trying terrorists. They’re not citizens of the United States. They are a threat to the United States. I think they should be tried by military tribunals. The process would move a lot faster, and we are much more likely to get the proper judgment against these people who have killed many of our citizens, and who have a desire to kill more of our citizens.
While Cain was unaware of the situation in question — a troublesome revelation in and of itself, you can see that there is no ambiguity in his answer, even if the American citizen in question is engaged in terrorist activities, as Cain says, “they still deserve the rights of this country, which includes due process.”
But this week, just days after Awlaki was killed without due process, Cain expressed support for President Obama’s action and denied that he ever said anything to the contrary (emphasis mine):
During a brief phone interview this afternoon with The Weekly Standard, Cain responded to questions that have been raised about his positions on the war on terror and taxes.
Asked why he had backed off his opposition to the U.S. military’s targeting Anwar Awlaki, the al Qaeda terrorist and American citizen who was killed Friday by a drone strike in Yemen, Cain denied that he had ever opposed taking out Awlaki.
“I never said that [President Obama] should not have ordered [the killing]. I don’t recall saying that. I think you’ve got some misinformation,” Cain said. “Keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there trying to make me sound as if I am indecisive.”
Uh, we didn’t have to try, Mr. Cain. You’re doing a pretty good job of making yourself sound indecisive. Of course, this isn’t the first gaffe Cain has made on foreign policy issues. Remember, he bombed Chris Wallace’s question on Palestinian “right of return” during a visit on Fox News Sunday and other answers on foreign policy questions have been essentially that we’ll have to elect him to find out what he believes. Unfortunately for Cain (but thankfully for the rest of us), it doesn’t work that way.
Cain has also been backing himself into a corner on Rick Perry. It’s become obvious that he’s not Perry’s biggest fan, it seems for political reasons more than anything else, as evidence by overplaying his hand on the hunting camp story that was recently brought to light.
During an interview yesterday with the National Journal, Cain said that he’d consider the vice-presidential spot on the ticket with any of his rivals…except for Perry:
Herman Cain said Thursday that he would consider an invitation to join an eventual Republican presidential nominee as a vice presidential candidate — unless the nominee is Rick Perry.
“I would not say no to being vice president of the United States,” Cain said. “But it would depend upon who got the nomination. I will support who gets the nomination. I know I have said that there are some people right now who I cannot support, but I wouldn’t say no to it. I could say yes. But it has to be someone who I believe I can complement them in their job by being able to bring my skills to the table.”
But, Cain told the National Journal, “Quite frankly, based upon Governor Perry’s position on some issues, I would not be comfortable being his vice presidential nominee.”
Cain said that while he hasn’t “totally gone through all of [Perry’s] positions, but a lot of positions I have questions with” including “being soft on the border, issues relative to tuition for children of illegal aliens.”
Interestingly, Tax Hike Mike Huckabee held a similar position as Perry on in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, but that didn’t stop Cain from sending Huckabee $2,300 during the 2008 primary.
We’ll have more on Cain later. Stay tuned.