September 25, 2010, CBS News/Associated Press
The Obama administration on Saturday invoked the state secrets privilege which would kill a lawsuit on behalf of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged terrorist said to be targeted for death or capture under a U.S. government program. In its court papers, 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 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.” Al-Awlaki’s father, through the CCR and the ACLU, filed the case in federal court in Washington. The lawsuit filed on the cleric’s behalf seeks to have a court declare that the Constitution and international law bar the government from carrying out targeted killings; seeks to block the targeted killing of al-Awlaki; and seeks to force the U.S. government to disclose the standards for determining whether U.S. citizens can be targeted for death.