October 11, 2010
Plaintiff Responds in Targeted Killing Case
The ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights responded Friday to the government's motion to dismiss in Al-Aulaqi v. Obama. The case challenges the President's authority to order the targeting killing of Nasser Al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen allegedly supporting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (We covered the government's authority, or lack thereof, here.)
The government moved to dismiss the case last month, arguing that the plaintiff lacked standing, and that the case is barred by the political question doctrine and the state secrets privilege.
On standing, the ACLU and CCR argue that al-Aulaqi's father has next-of-friend standing to bring the case on behalf of Nasser, his son, and has satisfied all the standing requirements: "At the most basic level, the injury here could not be clearer, or more profound: Plaintiff's suit is based on his fear that the government will kill his son."
On the political question, they argue that this case is every bit as appropriate for the courts as a case involving indefinite executive detention of an American, executive detention and habeas at Guantanamo Bay, or the legality of military commissions--issues on which the Court has ruled relatively recently in Hamdi, Rasul and Boumediene, and Hamdan, respectively.
On the state secrets privilege, the groups argue that the government's assertion here, to dismiss the litigation on the pleadings based on the claim that the case would force the disclosure of state secrets, is sweeping and unsupported by law. It's also ironic:
that Anwar Al-Aulaqi has been targeted for assassination is known to the world only because senior administration officials, in an apparently coordinated media strategy, advised the nation's leading newspapers that the National Security Council had authorized the use of lethal force against him.
Op. at 45. It's not the first time we've seen this kind of irony.
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