Liberal Anti-Drone-Policy activists ask legal accountability — but Obama and Congress could not care less

Rights Groups, in Letter to Obama, Question Legality and Secrecy of Drone Killings

[Yahya Arhab/European Pressphoto Agency — A drone model burned Friday at a protest in Sana, Yemen. Most American drone attacks have been in Yemen and Pakistan.]
By , New York Times, April 12, 2013

In a letter sent to President Obama this week, the nation’s leading human rights organizations questioned the legal basis for targeted killing and called for an end to the secrecy surrounding the use of drones.

The “statement of shared concern” said the administration should “publicly disclose key targeted killing standards and criteria; ensure that U.S. lethal force operations abroad comply with international law; enable meaningful Congressional oversight and judicial review; and ensure effective investigations, tracking and response to civilian harm.”

The nine-page letter, signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundations and several other groups, is the most significant critique to date by advocacy groups of what has become the centerpiece of the United States’ counterterrorism efforts.

While not directly calling the strikes illegal under international law, the letter lists what it calls troubling reports of the criteria used by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command to select targets and assess results. The reported policies raise “serious questions about whether the U.S. is operating in accordance with international law,” the letter says. It is also signed by the Center for Civilians in Conflict and units of the New York University and Columbia Law Schools. Continue reading

Judge dismisses case of US citizen on ‘kill list’ of the Obama administration and military

Islamic preacher and leader Anwar al-'Awlaqi


Court Dismisses Targeted Killing Case On Procedural Grounds Without Addressing Merits

Judge Acknowledges ACLU And CCR Case Raises Important Questions About Legality Of Obama Administration’s Claimed  Authority To Kill Americans Outside Combat Zones

“The government has unreviewable authority to carry out the targeted killing of any American, anywhere, whom the president deems to be a threat to the nation.”

WASHINGTON – A federal court today acknowledged the serious issues raised by a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s targeted killing policy, but dismissed the case on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have legal standing to challenge the targeting of his son, and that the case raised “political questions” not subject to court review.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  filed the lawsuit in August, charging that the administration’s asserted authority to execute U.S. citizens outside combat zones who do not pose an imminent threat violates the U.S. Constitution and international law. The judge did not rule on the merits of the case.

Despite granting the government’s motion to dismiss the case, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia called the case “unique and extraordinary,” said it presented “[s]tark, and perplexing, questions” and found that the merits “present fundamental questions of separation of powers involving the proper role of the courts in our constitutional structure.”

Ultimately, however, he dismissed the case on procedural grounds and found that “the serious issues regarding the merits of the alleged authorization of the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen overseas must await another day…” Continue reading

US foreign policy: Bush’s torturers lead to Obama’s assassins

by John Steele

September 19, 2010

Many thought that the Obama White House would take a very different stance on the overt and systematic violation of human rights which had become infamous policy in the US “war on terror” under G.W. Bush. Instead, aside from a cosmetic banning of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and anunfulfilled pledge to close the notorious Guantanamo facility, Obama has directly continued Bush-era “anti-terrorism” policies, and has strongly fought in court any challenges to these policies, as well as any calling-to-account of Bush administration figures for their open advocacy and administration of torture, kidnapping, secret dentention and indefinite imprisonment.

The pattern is quite consistent in case after case. Yes, the Guantanamo detention center is announced as “to be closed” (it had long become public relations disaster for the US in the world), but this administration, equally with the last, continues to claim the right to hold people indefinitely without charge or trial. Obama has, further, continued the Bush policy of arguing (successfully) in legal actions that Guantanamo prisoners and ex-prisoners have no rights to sue over their torture or other abuse. In fact, in arguing against the prosecution of notorious Bush administration lawyer John Yoo, whose memos argued for Presidential authority to authorize virtually any action, including torture, Obama administration lawyers endorsed in court the Bush-era argument that courts should not review or intervene in Presidential decision-making. Continue reading

Lawsuit Challenges Obama’s Policy of Assassinating US Citizens Abroad

By Stephen Lendman

31 August, 2010

In February, then Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair acknowledged that CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads have been authorized to kill US citizens abroad, suspected of terrorist involvement.

Disapproval came from an unlikely source, Hollywood tough guy Chuck Norris in an article titled, “Obama’s US Assassination Program? ‘A Shortlist of US Citizens Specfically Targeted for Killing?” saying:

It’s true, an “abandonment of our Constitution….based on nothing more than” suspicion of terrorist involvement. “That’s right. No arrest. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just a bullet,” bomb or slit throat, Washington’s new approach along with torture as official policy – justice, American-style under Republicans and Democrats, Obama even more extreme than Bush, the rule of law defunct and defiled, the “land of the free” disgraced, the entire world unsafe.

Enough to arouse the ire of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and ACLU, on August 30, filing a federal lawsuit (Al-Aulaqi v. Obama) challenging America’s right to kill US citizens abroad in cold blood “far away from any armed conflict and without charge, trial or judicial process,” the way the Obama administration interprets US and international law. Continue reading