Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Officially sanctioned murder of US citizen supported by law banning legal challenge/ NY Times

What a Catch 22: Once the US Government designates someone as a terrorist, it becomes illegal to provide the designee with legal assistance challenging the terrorist designation!

The Obama administration announced to the world that it had the right to assassinate an American (Anwar al-Awlaki) citizen without any charges or trial last April.

According to the NY Times on April 6,
The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.
Once you get on the terrorist list, it becomes a crime to offer a designated terrorist any assistance, including legal assistance to challenge the designation itself.

In today's NY Times:
“The same government that is seeking to kill Anwar al-Awlaki has prohibited attorneys from contesting the legality of the government’s decision to use lethal force against him,” says the complaint, which was jointly filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights...
Working without compensation, they began developing a lawsuit over whether the executive branch could lawfully carry out such a killing in the face of the Constitution’s protection against deprivation of life “without due process of law.”
But on July 16 — before the groups were ready to file such a lawsuit— the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control announced that it was applying the global terrorist designation to Mr. Awlaki. That step blocked Mr. Awlaki’s assets and made it a crime for Americans to engage in transactions with him or for his benefit without a license from the office...
“Targeting Americans for execution without any form of due process while at the same time obstructing lawyers’ ability to challenge that policy is fundamentally un-American,” said Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union... 
Vincent Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, argued that international law did not permit a government to kill people far from combat zones, calling that assassination. And in the case of a United States citizen like Mr. Awlaki, he contended, such a policy also violates the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment — and is a dangerous precedent.
“The governmental talking points around what is at stake does not make constitutional law,” Mr. Warren said. “We are trying to take this out of the realm of Sunday morning talk shows and put these issues before a court so the government can set forth the evidence.”
Thank goodness for civil liberties lawyers, who have challenged this legal authorization of death squads and extra-judicial killings, combined with prevention of judicial review.  (Is John Yoo back in government dreaming up these pseudo-legal arguments, or have the Dems found themselves a new pack of unethical, uneducated and "creative" lawyers?)  This legal chicanery doesn't pass the [Constitutional] smell test.

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