Lawsuit over American drone strikes dismissed by US judge

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
(Photo for illustrative purpose only)

(Photo for illustrative purpose only)

A federal judge at the weekend dismissed a lawsuit filed against the US government by the families of three American citizens killed by US drones in Yemen, saying senior officials cannot be held personally responsible for money damages for the act of conducting war.

The families of the three - including Anwar Al Awlaki, a New Mexico-born militant Muslim cleric who had joined Al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate, and his teenage son - sued over their 2011 deaths in US drone strikes, arguing that the killings were illegal.

Judge Rosemary Collyer of the US District Court in Washington threw out the case, which had named as defendants former defense secretary and CIA chief Leon Panetta, former senior military commander and CIA chief David Petraeus and two other top military commanders.

"The question presented is whether federal officials can be held personally liable for their roles in drone strikes abroad that target and kill US citizens," Collyer said in her opinion. "The question raises fundamental issues regarding constitutional principles, and it is not easy to answer."

But the judge said she would grant the government's motion to dismiss the case.

Collyer said that the officials named as defendants "must be trusted and expected to act in accordance with the US Constitution when they intentionally target a US citizen abroad at the direction of the president and with the concurrence of Congress. They cannot be held personally responsible in monetary damages for conducting war."

Awlaki's US-born son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was 16 years old when he was killed. Also killed was Samir Khan, a naturalized US citizen who had moved to Yemen in 2009 and worked on Inspire, an English-language al Qaeda magazine.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, both based in New York, represented the families. They had argued that in killing American citizens, the government had violated fundamental rights under the US Constitution to due process and to be free from unreasonable seizure.

"This is a deeply troubling decision that treats the government's allegations as proof while refusing to allow those allegations to be tested in court," ACLU lawyer Hina Shamsi said. "The court's view that it cannot provide a remedy for extrajudicial killings when the government claims to be at war, even far from any battlefield, is profoundly at odds with the Constitution."

Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer Maria LaHood said the judge "effectively convicted" Anwar al-Awlaki "posthumously based solely on the government's say-so." LaHood said the judge also found that the constitutional rights of the son and of Khan "weren't violated because the government didn't target them."

"It seems there's no remedy if the government intended to kill you, and no remedy if it didn't. This decision is a true travesty of justice for our constitutional democracy, and for all victims of the US government's unlawful killings," LaHood added.

Article continued on next page...

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

From currency woes to taxation loopholes closing and a clampdown...

2
Q&A with Dubai Chamber

Q&A with Dubai Chamber

We spoke with Essa Al Zaabi of Dubai Chamber of Commerce to find...

The politics of big data

The politics of big data

The UAE may be one of the fastest adopters of e-government initiatives...

Most Discussed
  • 24
    World's most pierced man refused entry to the UAE

    Tolerance has its limits everywhere including Dubai and those who considered Dubai a lawless circus were held accountable...so thank you Dubai authorities... more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 10:51 PM - Khalil
  • 23
    Baby NOT on board?

    Some of you cry babies need to get your own personal apartments on the plane ! You cry more then the babies I have seen in my travels. LOL more

    Thursday, 28 August 2014 9:10 AM - Jim
  • 21
    Israel “must be punished” over Gaza, says Dubai police chief

    This high moral ground that Mick is talking abt sound very familiar. May I remind Mick that the US & its British ally alone killed over 1 million innocent... more

    Thursday, 7 August 2014 4:12 PM - Mathew