Rights Groups Respond to Motion To Dismiss Due Process Challenge To Killings of Three Americans in U.S. Drone Strikes

December 14, 2012, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued the following statement in response to U.S. officials’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the targeted killing of three U.S. citizens, including a 16-year-old boy, in Yemen last year:

The essence of the government’s argument is that it has the authority to kill Americans not only in secret, but also without ever having to justify its actions under the Constitution in any courtroom. To claim, as the administration has today, that the courts have no role at all to play in assessing whether the government's targeted killings of Americans are lawful—even after the fact—simply cannot be squared with the Due Process Clause.
The president himself has acknowledged that the targeted killing program must be subject to more meaningful checks, but there is little evidence of that recognition in the brief filed by the government today. If the court accepts the government's position, it is not only the current president but every future president who will wield the power to kill any American he or she deems to present a threat to national security, without ever having to explain that action to a judge. The Constitution requires more.
The case, Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, was filed on behalf of Nasser Al-Aulaqi, the father and grandfather of Anwar and Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, and Sarah Khan, the mother of Samir Khan. It names as defendants Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; former CIA Director David Petraeus; Adm. William H. McRaven, Commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command; and Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.
Attorneys on the case include Jameel Jaffer, Hina Shamsi and Brett Kaufman of the ACLU, and Pardiss Kebriaei, Maria LaHood and Susan Hu of Center for Constitutional Rights.  
To read a copy of brief, visit the CCR case page or the ACLU case page.  

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 ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

December 14, 2012