Anwar al-Awlaki: ACLU wants militant cleric taken off US 'kill list'
The US government has linked Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen in Yemen, to the Fort Hood shootings and the Christmas Day bombing. But the ACLU filed a lawsuit Monday to stop an alleged plan to assassinate him.
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Government officials have defended the program, saying that after the 9/11 attacks Congress granted the executive branch wide latitude to take action to protect the country from Al Qaeda.Skip to next paragraph
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“The US is careful to ensure that all its operations used to prosecute the armed conflict against those forces, including lethal operations, comply with all applicable laws, including the laws of war,” Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.
"This administration is using every legal measure available to defeat Al Qaeda, and we will continue to do so as long as its forces pose a threat to this nation," he said.
The same two civil rights groups filed a lawsuit on Aug. 3 challenging the legality of Treasury Department regulations that require lawyers in the case to obtain a government-issued license before they could file a lawsuit on behalf of someone on the government’s terrorism list. That suit asked a judge to declare the licensing requirement illegal and unconstitutional.
Both lawsuits were filed in the name of Awlaki’s father, Nasser al-Awlaki. The arrangement was necessary, according to the complaint, because his son, Anwar, is in hiding in Yemen and cannot gain access to lawyers or the courts to assert his constitutional rights without risking imminent death.
The elder Awlaki was a Fulbright scholar from Yemen studying in the US in the 1960s. He married a US citizen and they had a son, Anwar, who is also a US citizen because he was born in the US. The family returned to Yemen in 1978.
“Upon information and belief,” the suit says, “Anwar [Al-Awlaki] is now subject to a standing order that permits the CIA and JSOC to kill him.”
The suit alleges that the targeted-killing program violates Awlaki’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure and his Fifth Amendment right not to be deprived of life without due process.