[News] New challenge to US kill lists

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Aug 30 14:40:02 EDT 2010

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Will the U.S. government get away with the power to target and kill 
individuals, including U.S. citizens, far from any armed conflict and 
without charge, trial, or judicial process? This is the central 
question in 
v. Obama, a lawsuit CCR and the ACLU filed today in federal court.

We recently had a small victory in our efforts to contest the 
legality of a kill-list maintained by the U.S. government.  On August 
3, 2010, we wrote to tell you that we filed a lawsuit against the 
U.S. Treasury Department and the Office of Foreign Assets Control 
(OFAC) to dispute the constitutionality of a licensing scheme that 
requires lawyers to seek government permission to represent 
individuals the same government intends to kill. The government put 
U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi on a kill-list, then added him to an 
OFAC list last month, making it a crime for CCR and the ACLU to 
challenge the government's authority to kill him.  On August 4, the 
day after we filed our lawsuit against OFAC, OFAC granted CCR and the 
ACLU a license to provide pro bono legal services to Anwar 
Al-Aulaqi's father Nasser Al-Aulaqi as representative of his 
interests.  Although we obtained a license, we will continue to 
pursue our challenge to the OFAC regulations because it is 
unconstitutional to require lawyers to ask the government for 
permission to challenge the legality of its conduct.

Today, CCR and ACLU have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nasser 
Al-Aulaqi against President Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and 
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  The lawsuit aims to stop the U.S. 
government from carrying out a "targeted killing" far away from any 
armed conflict, without due process, and where there is not an 
imminent threat and lethal force is not necessary.  Anwar Al-Aulaqi 
has not been charged with any crime, but has reportedly been the 
target of several strikes in Yemen, a country in which the U.S. is 
not engaged in war but where air strikes have caused civilian 
casualties and popular protests, and where he is believed to be in 
hiding.  Outside the context of armed conflict (Yemen is almost 2000 
miles away from Iraq and Afghanistan), targeted killing is 
permissible under international law only as a last resort and in the 
face of a truly imminent threat - and then only because the imminence 
of the threat makes judicial process infeasible. Outside these narrow 
circumstances, targeted killing amounts to the imposition of a death 
sentence without charge or trial.  The government's authorization to 
kill U.S. citizen Al-Aulaqi far from any armed conflict violates his 
Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force and his Fifth 
Amendment right to due process before being deprived of life and to 
have notice of the criteria that make a person targetable for 
death.  It also constitutes an extrajudicial killing in violation of 
international law.

Regardless of the government's allegations against Anwar al-Aulaqi or 
any person suspected of wrongdoing, authorizing the death of 
individuals on secret standards, far from any conflict zone, and 
outside of any legal process not only violates the Constitution and 
international law, but seriously undermines our collective 
safety.  The executive should not be able to act as judge, jury, and 
executioner, substituting its own bureaucratic process for the due 
process required by law. The U.S. government should not be able to 
claim the sweeping authority to carry out extrajudicial killings of 
U.S. citizens or other individuals far from any actual battlefield, 
nor make the dangerous contention that the entire world is now a 
battlefield. Such assertions of power will inevitably target innocent 
people-the U.S. government has a long and well-documented history of 
wrongly accusing both citizens and foreigners of terrorism and of 
being a threat to national security-and kill scores of innocent 
bystanders, undermining the rule of law and effectively creating a 
war without boundaries or end.

If the government suspects individuals of criminal activity, they 
should be charged and tried in a court of law, not put to death on 
the government's say-so.

We will keep you updated on this important case. To read more, 
our case page.

Thank you for your continued support.


Vincent Warren
Executive Director
Center for Constitutional Rights

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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