Justice Dept: Assassinations Up to President, Not Courts, to Decide

Officials Feign Outrage at Idea Court Should Have Oversight Over Killings

The Obama Administration is fighting tooth and nail to kill a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of New Mexico cleric Anwar Awlaki, arguing that even though Awlaki isn’t charged with any crimes it “strains credulity” to argue that the US government needs to present evidence before assassinating the US citizen.

In fact the papers filed by the Justice Department attempting to quash the case argue that the court system should have absolutely no oversight over the administration’s sudden, bizarre claim that it can assassinate any American citizen it wants on the basis of nation security, arguing that such issues are “for the executive branch of the government to decide rather than the courts.”

Though officials have alleged that Awlaki has active ties to al-Qaeda, they have never presented publicly any evidence of this claim, and cite “state secrets” to the court as one of the many reasons they should never have to. Instead officials point to Awlaki’s well publicized sermons criticizing American foreign policy as proof that he is a threat.

The ACLU lawsuit is being filed at the urging of Awlaki’s father, who fears that his son will be assassinated without any public evidence against him. The ACLU further maintains that giving the executive branch carte blanche over assassinating American citizens is “unacceptable in a democracy.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.