Christopher Hitchens has been one of the greatest public intellectuals presenting a relentless case in favor of the liberal tradition on the one hand and a resolute opposition to the threat that Islamic fundamentalism poses to liberalism. He writes about al Awlaki here. One thing I like about this piece is that he doesn't get tangled up in the killing itself and focuses on who al Awlaki was - what sort of al Qaeda member he was - and the implications that that has for the way Americans react to the problem. This is particularly good:
"Slow and sidelong cultural erosions of this kind can do incalculable harm. And they can also be horribly and cheaply self-replicating: Some people will “overreact” to a specter of Islamism however slight, and this will offend the man who is only trying to meet his prayer obligations, and then a whole machinery of supposed grievance and redress clanks into action. Meanwhile, those who orchestrate this little carnival of mayhem and social corrosion are able to do so from areas that are beyond our legal jurisdiction but within our military reach, and to taunt us while doing so."