United States Sued For Droning American Citizens in Yemen
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed a lawsuit against senior U.S. government officials for the targeted killing of three Americans using armed drones outside a declared warzone. The complaint contends President Obama’s top military team, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director General David Petraeus, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Admiral William McRaven and current Commander of JSOC, Lieutenant General Joseph Votel carried out drone strikes that deprived three U.S. citizens of due process rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
Two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, were killed in September 2011 by a drone strikes in Yemen. And in an October 2011 drone strike, Abdulrahman al- Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of al-Awlaki, was killed in Yemen while eating dinner at a café along with a large group of patrons including his teenage cousin.
According to several published reports and U.S. government intelligence agencies, al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and was considered a radical Islamist cleric and alleged leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The ACLU’s legal complaint states, “the killings violated the right to due process under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, the prohibition on unreasonable seizures under the Fourth Amendment, and, with respect to Anwar Al-Awlaki, the ban on extrajudicial death warrants imposed by the Constitution’s Bill of Attainder Clause. The killings also violated international law, which is incorporated through the Constitution.”
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions said the targeted drone strike constituted “a clear case of extrajudicial killing” that sets an “alarming precedent.”
The now commonplace drone strike slayings were part of the “war on terror” agenda that called for “targeted killings” by the U.S. officials outside a declared warzone. The basis of using vague legal standards to kill American citizens via a closed Presidential executive process outside the legal confines of a courtroom highlights inherent flaws with the Patriot Act passed after 9-11 under former President Bush.
Constitutional and international law both prohibit killing outside a declared conflict zone without providing due process; “except as a last resort to avert a concrete, specific, and imminent threat of death or serious physical injury,” according to the ACLU. “Even in the context of an armed conflict against an armed group (which did not exist in Yemen at the time of these killings), the government may use lethal force only against individuals who are directly participating in hostilities against the United States. Regardless of the context, whenever the government uses lethal force, it must take all possible steps to avoid harming civilian bystanders.”
The ACLU argues that the senior CIA and military officials who “authorized and directed” the drone strikes violated U.S. standards. The plaintiffs seek undetermined compensatory damages for the violations of their civil rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments as well as the Constitution’s Bill of Attainder Clause.
Perhaps America’s foreign adventurism and lawlessness have infiltrated all branches of government. Consider the following statement from Judge Andrew Napolitano; “We live in perilous times. The president acts above the Rule of Law and fights his own wars. Congress acts below the Rule of Law by letting the president do whatever he can get away with.”
The president’s continued gravitas towards foreign adventurism only highlights the fact that he has effectively neutered Congress, so that even the targeted killings of Americans without charges and trials has become as mundane as playing “Call Of Duty®.”
Link to previous drone story: http://www.examiner.com/article/we-ve-been-droned-are-kill-lists-lawful-and-prudent-1
© Copyright 2012 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.