Judge to Hear Arguments on Targeted Killing of U.S. Citizen by Obama Administration

November 08, 2010  |  Posted by Daniel Pollitt

Is it legal to target a U.S. citizen for execution far away from any battlefield, without due process? Arguments for and against the power of targeted killing, asserted by the Obama administration, will be heard today by a federal judge. Warren Richey of The Christian Science Monitor has the story:

A federal judge is set to hear arguments on Monday in a lawsuit challenging an alleged secret Obama administration plan to use lethal force against an American-born Islamic cleric hiding in Yemen.

The cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, is a leader of the Yemen-based group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He has facilitated training camps in Yemen, encouraged new recruits, and helped prepare Umar Abdulmutallab in his attempt to blow up an airliner near Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, government lawyers say.

In July, US authorities listed al-Awlaki as a “specially designated global terrorist.” According to press reports, he is on a US government “kill list."

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of al-Awlaki’s father by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenges the government’s authority to carry out the intentional killing.

...The use of lethal force may be justifiable, according to the ACLU, if the individual poses an imminent threat to the life or safety of others and there is no non-lethal alternative open to the government to neutralize the threat. The lawyers say these conditions do not apply to al-Awlaki.

The ACLU brief quotes a 2004 US Supreme Court decision written by then Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. “A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens,” she wrote.

Regardless of how this lawsuit is revolved, one thing is for certain: the decision to use lethal force against U.S. civillians without due process sets a dangerous precedent. 

More from the article here.


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