Christopher Dorner, drones, and the death of due process

The fugitive California ex-cop and al Qaeda's Anwar al-Awlaki both deserve better, says Matt Pressberg at Neon Tommy. And so do we.

This surveillance video image provided by the Irvine Police Department shows Christopher Dorner on Jan. 28 at an Orange County, Calif., hotel.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Irvine Police Department)

Even with a $1 million-plus bounty hanging over his head, alleged California killer Christopher Dorner is still on the lam. To its credit, the Los Angeles Police Department has re-opened the case that led to Dorner's firing — and his alleged vengeance trip — but judging by the LAPD's shoot-first, verify-later spree of open-firing at the wrong people, Dorner has reason to fear he'll never get his day in court, says Matt Pressberg at the USC Annenberg journalism school's Neon Tommy. That should worry all of us. Due process "is not only a bedrock constitutional principle (Fifth Amendment) in this country, but one of the key underpinnings of freedom period." And if our government "can simply be the executioner and disregard judge and jury" — be it for Dorner or Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S-born al Qaeda operative killed by a drone in Yemen, followed soon after by his American son — "individual rights effectively don't exist." An excerpt:

As an American citizen accused of a crime, Chris Dorner has his Fifth Amendment rights. The facts on the ground don't make it seem as if LAPD was all too interested in respecting them.... Alleged is not just a term journalists need to use to avoid the ire of a cautious editor. It's part of civilized-world jurisprudence. But now it seems like Americans have little use for alleged criminals who need to be brought to justice. Their attention is on terrorist madmen who must be stopped before they murder our children, and if innocent people get killed in the process — well, it's a dangerous world and we can't take chances.

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