State se­crets priv­i­lege in­voked in case of cleric

The fil­ing could kill a law­suit on be­half of a U.S.-born rad­i­cal said to be liv­ing in Ye­men.

Los Angeles Times - - The Nation -

washington — The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on Satur­day in­voked the state se­crets priv­i­lege, which could kill a law­suit on be­half of U.S.-born cleric An­war Awlaki, a ter­ror­ism sus­pect said to be a tar­get for as­sas­si­na­tion un­der a U.S. govern­ment pro­gram.

In a court fil­ing, the Jus­tice Depart­ment said that the is­sues in the case are for the ex­ec­u­tive branch of govern­ment to de­cide rather than the courts.

The depart­ment also said the case en­tails in­for­ma­tion that is pro­tected by the mil­i­tary and state se­crets priv­i­lege.

The courts have suf­fi­cient grounds to throw out the law­suit with­out re­sort­ing to use of the state se­crets priv­i­lege, the Jus­tice Depart­ment said in its fil­ing.

“The idea that courts should have no role what­so­ever in de­ter­min­ing the cri­te­ria by which the ex­ec­u­tive branch can kill its own cit­i­zens is un­ac­cept­able in a democ­racy,” the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the Cen­ter for Con­sti­tu­tional Rights said in a state­ment. “In mat­ters of life and death, no ex­ec­u­tive should have a blank check.”

Awlaki’s fa­ther, through those two groups, filed the case in fed­eral court in Washington.

The fa­ther has de­manded that the govern­ment dis­close a wide va­ri­ety of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion that could harm U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity, Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesman Matthew Miller said in a state­ment.

“It strains credulity to ar­gue that our laws re­quire the govern­ment to dis­close to an ac­tive, op­er­a­tional ter­ror­ist any in­for­ma­tion about how, when and where we fight ter­ror­ism,” Miller said.

The govern­ment con­sid­ers Awlaki to be the most no­to­ri­ous English-speak­ing ad­vo­cate of ter­ror­ism di­rected at the United States.

E-mails link Awlaki to the Army psy­chi­a­trist ac­cused of the killings at Ft. Hood, Texas, last year. Awlaki, be­lieved to be liv­ing in Ye­men, has taken on an in­creas­ingly op­er­a­tional role in an Al Qaeda-linked group in that re­gion, the Jus­tice Depart­ment fil­ing said, in­clud­ing pre­par­ing Umar Farouk Ab­dul­mu­tal­lab in his at­tempt to det­o­nate an ex­plo­sive de­vice aboard a North­west Air­lines flight from Am­s­ter­dam to Detroit on Christ­mas Day.

The law­suit filed on the cleric’s be­half seeks to have a court declare that the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion and in­ter­na­tional law bar the govern­ment from car­ry­ing out tar­geted killings. It also aims to block the tar­geted killing of Awlaki and to force the govern­ment to dis­close the stan­dards for de­ter­min­ing whether U.S. cit­i­zens can be tar­geted for death.

What Awlaki’s fa­ther is seek­ing would be “un­prece­dented, im­proper and ex­traor­di­nar­ily dan­ger­ous,” said the Jus­tice Depart­ment fil­ing, which nei­ther con­firmed nor de­nied the ex­is­tence of an as­sas­si­na­tion pro­gram.

The law­suit would nec­es­sar­ily and im­prop­erly in­ject the courts into de­ci­sions of the pres­i­dent and his ad­vi­sors about how to pro­tect the coun­try from the threat of armed attacks, in­clud­ing im­mi­nent threats, posed by a for­eign or­ga­ni­za­tion against which the po­lit­i­cal branches have au­tho­rized the use of nec­es­sary and ap­pro­pri­ate force, said the Jus­tice Depart­ment fil­ing.

AN­WAR AWLAKI

Muham­mad ud-Deen

He is thought to be an as­sas­si­na­tion tar­get un­der a U.S. pro­gram.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.