CCR Attorneys Challenging “Targeted Killings” Denounce Proposed Lethal Strike Against U.S. Citizen Abroad

February 28, 2014, New York – In response to news that the Obama Administration is debating whether to authorize the killing of a U.S. citizen terrorism suspect in Pakistan, whose name, Abdullah al-Shami, was just reported, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

The Obama administration is reportedly divided over whether the United States has the authority to carry out the premeditated killing of another U.S. citizen terrorism suspect abroad. We know unacceptably little about the standards and circumstances at issue, but what the administration has previously stated – albeit through anonymous leaks, summary speeches and a Cliffs Notes version of new policy guidance  – outlines an authority that rests on novel, aggressive, and deeply controversial interpretations of constitutional and international law. Even so, the administration continues to attempt to characterize its positions as resting on familiar, traditional principles. It is dangerous and far from accepted to claim, as the administration does, that the field of battle in its armed conflict against Al Qaeda is worldwide, that imminent threats don’t require imminence, and that the final analysis about the legality of its killings is up to the same officials that authorize and sanction those killings.
In 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed, Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, a federal lawsuit against senior CIA and military officials challenging their decisions to authorize the targeted killing of three United States citizens, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, and Samir Khan.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


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February 28, 2014