Justice Dept: No Legal Authority for Court to Oversee Obama’s Assassinations

Opening Arguments Heard in Obama Killings Trial

The Obama Administration’s Justice Department today argued that the court system has absolutely no legal authority to be “looking over the shoulder” of President Obama when he decides to assassinate American citizens, insisting those are “the very core powers of the president as commander in chief.”

The comments were made to US District Judge John Bates during a case brought by Nasser al-Awlaki seeking to prevent the president from assassinating his son, New Mexico cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, despite not having charged him with any actual crimes.

If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state,” insisted Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU legal director who presented the case against the killings.

Former official Dennis Blair announced in April that the administration had approved Awlaki’s assassination, and officials have since defended the planned killing, saying it would be irresponsible not to assassinate the outspoken critic of US policy. Officials have claimed Awlaki is a terrorist, though they have provided no evidence of this, and have also declined to provide information related to how they decide which citizens to assassinate, claiming national security would be compromised by describing the process.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.