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article imageAl-Aulaqi lawsuit dismissal gives U.S. government total authority Special

By Ben Morris     Apr 11, 2014 in Politics
Washington - Last week, a U.S. district court judge tossed out a lawsuit filed by the families of three American citizens who were executed in three separate drone strikes.
The controversial killings of Samir Khan, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman angered civil liberty activists who claimed the killings were a violation of the fifth amendment which promises Americans they shall be not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer did rule the assassinations violated the Fifth Amendment, but decided not to grant a remedy due to “special factors,” related to national security issues. For one person involved in the case, the court’s decision has set a dangerous standard when it comes to fighting terrorism.
According to Pardiss Kebriaei, the lead lawyer in the civil suit, “The administration claims the authority to be able to determine, unilaterally, on the basis of secret evidence, and legal interpretations, whether a person poses the kind of threat that would justify killing without charge, trial, and conviction.” By finding the court can’t rule on the constitutional lengths a president can go when fighting terrorism, Judge Collyer has effectively absolved the court from holding any legal standard to hold government accountable for criminal abuses of the constitution.
The drone program has been cloaked in secrecy, so hidden even oversight committees, and others governing in Washington, know very little about who is targeted, and why they have been targeted. For the chosen few in the House Foreign Relations Committee who attend the meetings are barred from taking anything into a secret, secured building that has a battery, or taking any notes. Given few highly redacted documents, the committee members are largely kept in the dark when it comes to the targeted killing campaigns. In Kebriaei’s mind, the Obama administration “continues to fight basic disclosures to the public thwarting the ability of people to serve as a meaningful check on their government.”
Even though no evidence has been presented in a court of law, U.S. President Barack Obama, and others in his administration, and national security agencies have claimed Al-Aulaqi was a leader in Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula who helped plan Nidal Hasan’s Fort Hood Shooting, as well as the attempted airplane bombing by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab on Christmas Day 2009. The question of whether Al-Aulaqi was a leader within AQAP has been disputed by various sources in Jeremy Scahill’s best seller Dirty Wars.
In the book, Scahill quotes Sheikh Salah bin Fareed, a tribal leader in Yemen, and uncle of Al-Aulaqi who claimed he had a meeting with his nephew who said, “I have nothing to do with Al-Qaeda.” That quote was backed up by Abdul Rezzaq al Jamal, a Yemeni journalist who told Scahill Al- Aulaqi “did not hold any official post in (AQAP) at all.”
However; the argument Al- Aulaqi was not a member of Al Qaeda is not held only in Yemen. Joshua Foust a former analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency called the cleric, “middle management,” who the Obama administration gave a “kind of importance and influence he doesn’t really have.”
Whether Al-Aulaqi was a leader in AQAP or not is not the major issue for Kebriaei and other critics of the assassinations. The problem is the lack of judicial procedures that have been held as the standard of criminal cases big and small. Timothy McVeigh was responsible for the death of 168 people in Oklahoma City, when he detonated a car bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. The FBI filed charges against McVeigh, they presented the evidence linking him to the crime in court, and he was executed after he was convicted. If he was not stopped for a traffic violation, who knows what else he would have done? McVeigh was angry about the incidents in Waco, and Ruby Ridge, like Al-Alaqui was angered by the treatment of Muslim’s after 9/11.
The Obama administration gave millions to the Yemeni government to fight Al Qaeda, they helped train forces in the fight, getting then Yemeni president Abdullah Saleh, or tribal leaders like bin Fareed to turn over Al- Alaqui was seemingly an option President Obama never thought of.
Obama’s drone program has killed an unknown amount of innocent people. It has angered citizens of the sovereign nations where the strikes take place. The lack of oversight and judicial procedures has according to Kebriaei set America down a worrisome path, thanks to, “an extremely dangerous precedent for future administrations,” Kebriaei wondered how the American press, and leadership would react if the situation was reversed.
“Would the administration accept the same claim of authority from another country- to fly drones into U.S. airspace to kill people it has secretly determined to be its enemies?” Kebriaei’s question is just one of many still left unanswered.
More about Anwar alAwlaki, drone strikes, Samir Khan, abdulrahman awlaki, War on Terror
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