The Obama administration has responded to critics of its decision, first reported in April, to kill an American citizen accused of terrorism without granting him due process or legal consideration. The American, Anwar al-Awlaki, was born and raised in the U.S. but now lives in Yemen, where he gives Internet sermons urging violence against the U.S. and is thought to aid the Yemen-based offshoot of al-Qaeda. The White House articulated its justification for trying to kill Awlaki without court approval in its formal request for a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit regarding the policy. The lawsuit was brought by U.S. civil rights groups on behalf of Awlaki's father. Here's the administration's argument and what people have to say.
Obama's Justification for Not Revealing His Justification The Washington Post's Spencer Hsu reports that the White House claims that, were a judge to hear a case related to the U.S. decision, it would violate state secrets. "Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that the groups are asking 'a court to take the unprecedented step of intervening in an ongoing military action to direct the President how to manage that action - all on behalf of a leader of a foreign terrorist organization.' Miller added, 'If al-Aulaqi wishes to access our legal system, he should surrender to American authorities and return to the United States, where he will be held accountable for his actions.'"
- Bush Lawyer: That's a Bit Extreme Bush-era White House lawyer David Rivkin told the New York Times, "I'm a huge fan of executive power, but if someone came up to you and said the government wants to target you and you can't even talk about it in court to try to stop it, that’s too harsh even for me."
- This Suggests They Know Strike May Be Illegal Liberal blogger Marcy Wheeler writes, "I think the invocation shows just how weak they recognize their own argument to be. ... The government isn’t really sure whether any of its arguments about al-Awlaki make sense (and that’s reading their filing generously). It’s not even willing to commit to one or another of those arguments to a judge. So using the best way to hide the obvious legal insufficiency of its argument, it has simply declared all the evidence that (doesn’t) support its argument off limits. Not only has the President declared the authority to target American citizens with no stronger argument than 'because I say so.' But it has also declared any of the evidence that would prove the sufficiency or insufficiency of his argument for doing so off limits."
- New Low for Obama Secrecy Salon's Glenn Greenwald fumes, "The Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. ... In other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are "state secrets," and thus no court may adjudicate their legality. ... If the President has the power to order American citizens killed with no due process, and to do so in such complete secrecy that no courts can even review his decisions, then what doesn't he have the power to do?"
- We Do This to Afghans Every Day Liberal blogger John Cole writes, "From a practical matter, though, how different is it from what we do every single day? Every single day, some unaccountable political apparatchik and team of military advisors signs off on a 'secret' drone strike that kills someone, usually a bunch of poor bastards who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or being born the child of an 'alleged terrrorist.' And mind you- it is only a 'secret' to the American people. The folks on the receiving end are very aware of our 'secret' drone strikes. And should someone have the audacity to try to inform the American public of what we are doing, our response is to accuse him of treason and smear him as a rapist."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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