Lawsuit Filed Against Government Over Assassination Of U.S. Citizens

ACLU demands information relating to CIA “kill list” and drone strikes on Americans

Steve Watson
February 3, 2012

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit this week against the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the CIA, demanding the release of any information pertaining to the deaths of three American citizens resulting directly from drone missile strikes in 2011.

Details regarding the deaths of accused Al Qaeda leaders Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Kahn, both American citizens, have been kept under wraps. Both men were reportedly killed in targeted drone attacks last year in Yemen.

The third US citizen to be killed was Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who was killed in a drone attack two weeks after al-Awlaki and Kahn.

At the time Obama described the death of Awlaki as a “significant milestone” in the war on terror.

“Our government’s deliberate and premeditated killing of American terrorism suspects raises profound questions that ought to be the subject of public debate,” Nathan Freed Wessler of the ACLU writes.

“Unfortunately the Obama administration has released very little information about the practice — its official position is that the targeted killing program is a state secret — and some of the information it has released has been misleading.” Wessler adds.

The ACLU is specifically seeking to uncover a Department of Justice memo that is said by government officials to have provided the legal justification for the killing of a U.S. citizen without due process.

Also in question is a CIA “kill list” that Awlaki is said to have been added to more than a year before he was killed. The ACLU is demanding information on the process by which Americans have been added to the secret list. A previous Freedom of Information Act request for the material was ignored by the government.

The CIA and the DOJ refuse to confirm or deny the existence or nonexistence of records relating to a targeted killing program.

The ACLU says the response is incredible given that details have been published in the media and spoken of by government officials.

“Some officials, including President Obama, have spoken on the record about the program. They have publicly claimed responsibility for killing al-Awlaki, and they have more generally defended the government’s right to kill citizens after a secret non-judicial process.” The ACLU statment reads.

Last week Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta acknowledged that the U.S. has assumed the authority to conduct targeted assassinations of U.S. citizens on the recommendations of the CIA Director and the Secretary of Defense and pursuant to the President’s authorization:

This week, President Obama followed up those sentiments by publicly defending the secret drone killing program:


“The public has a right to know the evidence and legal basis for the deliberate targeted killing of U.S. citizens,” the ACLU’s Wessler said. “So chilling a power must be opened to public scrutiny and debate.”


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.