Hi ATS'ers, ive asked this question in so many posts before for different topics on the US kill machine... when is enough enough? and who will stop
the bomb has been dropped... please excuse the pun.
IT’S the memo the US government didn’t want released: The justification for killing one of its own citizens in a drone strike.
The 2011 “targeted killing” sparked a storm of controversy — with fears it discarded key US legal concepts such as the right to trial and the
rules of war.
A US Federal court last night overruled White House objections and ordered the release of the previously secret legal note which details the
Presidency’s justification for assassinating US citizen and key terror suspect Anwar al Awlaki.
“We do not believe that al-Aulaqi’s (sic) US citizenship imposes constitutional limitations that would preclude the contemplated lethal action,”
the 41-page memo asserts.
Al Awlaki — accused of being an al Qaeda operative — was the first of three US citizens to be killed in controversial counterterrorism strikes in
Yemen by drones operated by the CIA.
The newly released document, however, remains heavily censored.
FOURTH AMENDMENT UNEXPLAINED
Significant sections have been removed or blanked out, including the element which attempts to justify how killing Awlaki would not violate the US
Constitution’s Fourth Amendment which guarantees due process — the right to a fair trial — to all US citizens accused of crimes.
The Obama administration has fought for the past three years to keep the memo secret, as well as other elements of the controversial “targeted
The document reveals the White House also regarded laws covering the rights of US nationals who conduct murder overseas as having “nothing to do
with the conduct of an authorised military operation”.
But the memo does reveal the Obama administration believed al Awlaki’s association with al-Qaeda made him subject to a 2001 Congressional Act,
passed after the September 11 2001 terror attacks, which authorised military force against terrorist leaders.
The document accuses al-Awlaki of being involved in an abortive attack against the United States and alleges he was planning other attacks from his
base in Yemen.
The memo reveals the US government did not consider national boundaries in any way to be an impediment to pursuing its war on terror. War may have
been officially declared in Afghanistan, but Yemen’s non-combatant status was irrelevant — it argued — insisting the targeted killing in no way
infringed upon the laws of war.
CIVIL LIBERTARIAN VICTORY
US civil liberties groups have welcomed the court’s decision.
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ordered the release of the memo after the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times filed
a lawsuit seeking any documents in which Justice Department lawyers had discussed the highly classified ``targeted-killing’’ program.
The appeals court ordered the memo disclosed after noting that President Barack Obama and other senior government officials had commented publicly on
“The release of this memo represents an overdue but nonetheless crucial step towards transparency,” said Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director
of the ACLU. “The public still knows scandalously little about who the government is killing and why … There are few questions more important than
the question of when the government has the authority to kill its own citizens.’’
WHITE HOUSE UNREPENTANT
White House spokesman Josh Earnest, responding to criticism from groups that complained that it took a court order to get the memo released, said the
administration worked through the legal system “to produce a redacted document that protected national security interests while at the same time
trying to live up to our commitment to transparency.’’
“In this case I think even the groups that sharply criticised us would call this a win,’’ Earnest said.
Lawyers in the case argue that although the United States, England and Israel are the only countries that have so far used drones in “targeted
killings”, other countries soon will have their own armed drones.
“The United States loosening and redefining international rules governing the use of force and war is ultimately not going to make anyone any
safer,’’ a lawyer said.
WHO WAS ANWAR AL AWLAKI?
Anwar al Awlaki was a Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico and preached at a Virgina mosque. He had been accused of associating with an al Qaeda
operative in Yemen who was believed responsible for attempting a bombing on a Detroit airliner in 2009.
When word leaked out that his name was on a US government “kill or capture’’ list, his family rushed to court to try to stop the government from
killing him, saying he had to be afforded the constitutional right to due process.
Targeted drone strikes also killed Abdulrahman al Awlaki, al Awlaki’s teenage son, who was also a US citizen. Another US citizen, the editor of an
al Qaeda magazine, was also targeted.