ACLU files suit against Obama, Petraeus on behalf of dead Al Qaeda terrorists
Raise your hand if you think I am exaggerating with that title....ok, you can put them down now.
Civil rights groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the drone strike killings of three U.S. citizens in Yemen.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in federal court in Washington on Wednesday on behalf of relatives of the victims. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus and other high officials are named as defendants.
And just who are these poor victims? Let's look at some quick bios:
Anwar al-Aulaqi: "senior talent recruiter and motivator who was involved with planning operations for the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda." Email pals with Major Nidal Hassan before he shot up Ft Hood. Was allegedly the guy behind the Christmas Underwear Bomber fiasco.
Samir Khan: Pakistani American editor and publisher of Inspire magazine, an English-language online magazine reported to be published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Samir here used to live in his mom's basement in North Carolina and has been stirring up trouble for years, and my friends at "My Pet Jawa" have been tracking him the whole time.
Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi: Son of Anwar, he was killed after the other two in a targetted strike that is claimed to have killed other AQ operatives.
ACLU for their part put up pictures of a young Abdulrahman and had this to say:
In Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta (Al-Awlaki v. Panetta) the groups charge that the U.S. government’s killings of U.S. citizens Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, and 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi in Yemen last year violated the Constitution’s fundamental guarantee against the deprivation of life without due process of law.
The killings were part of a broader program of “targeted killing” by the United States outside the context of armed conflict and based on vague legal standards, a closed executive process, and evidence never presented to the courts.
Since 2002, and routinely since 2009, the U.S. government has carried out deliberate and premeditated killings of suspected terrorists overseas. In some cases, including that of Anwar Al-Aulaqi, the targets were placed on “kill lists” maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon. According to news accounts, the targeted killing program has expanded to include “signature strikes” in which the government does not know the identity of individuals, but targets them based on “patterns” of behavior that have never been made public. The New York Times recently reported that the government counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.
Now, the last time I wrote about this subject it got 355 comments. As I noted at the time I wrote that post, the whole situation made me uncomfortable, and I wasn't sure what to think.
If anyone is reading an inherent bias on my part in the preceding, I'd love to know what that bias is, because I honestly have no clue how I feel about this whole thing. I feel uncomfortable with secret bodies not authorized by legislation authorizing things like killings. On the other hand, Awlaki needed to be ventilated and good riddance to bad rubbish. But, we should always think worst case scenario with these sorts of things. Can you envision a scenario where a US Citizen is killed abroad with a drone attack, and he didn't have what was coming to him? Probably we all can. So, what safeguard is there? That's where I get somewhat lost.
I still feel that way. I'm not crying into my pillow at night that these horrible folks got vaporized, not even a little. But I still don't know what the legal mechanism for this is. I had rather hoped at the time that there would be some statement made about how these trials took place in a FISA Court, but I still haven't heard that being the case.
You can see the picture above, that was the last article written for the Al Qaeda magazine by Samir. That's apparently not the Samir that the ACLU and his parents want to remember. From the court filing:
28. Plaintiff Sarah Khan is a U.S. citizen who has lived in the United States since 1992 with her husband and children. Her son, Samir, was born in 1985 and became a U.S. citizen in 1998.
29. Samir Khan attended elementary school in Queens, New York, and high school on Long Island, New York. After graduating from high school in 2003, he moved to North Carolina, where he attended a community college and worked part-time. He left for Yemen in October 2009.
30. Anonymous government officials have told reporters that Samir Khan was a propagandist” for AQAP. The government never publicly indicted him for any crime.
"Anonymous"? That's his magazine up there. If an "Anonymous" government official said that the bright ball in the sky is the sun, it doesn't make it not so. Just head over to My Pet Jawa and hunt through their records for "InshallahShaheed" which was Samir's online name.
This part of the lawsuit apparently had the opposite effect as it was intended, at least for me:
Senior government officials, including Defendant Panetta and President Barack Obama, have acknowledged the responsibility of the United States for killing Anwar Al-Aulaqi. On the same day the strike was carried out, DOD published a news article stating that “[a] U.S. airstrike . . . killed . . . Anwar [Al-Aulaqi] early this morning” and that he had been “high on the military-intelligence list of terrorist targets.”
Yeah, well good for them. I feel a little better everytime I read it, because it means there are fewer folks out there trying to hurt my family, including my brothers and sisters that are still deployed to Afghanistan.
So, I still remain concerned about the way the law of this works, but I'm not losing sweat over these guys here. What say you?