Lawyers for US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who has reportedly been targeted for assassination by the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command, had to fight the US government to have the right to represent him. On Wednesday, following a lawsuit by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Treasury Department issued a license to the pro-bono lawyers. Now the battle for due process begins. In a statement, al-Awlaki’s new lawyers said the license would “allow us to pursue our litigation relating to the government’s asserted authority to engage in targeted killings of American civilians without due process.”
Al-Awlaki, is originally from New Mexico and now lives in Yemen. He has been accused of providing inspiration for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged “underwear bomber,” and Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter.
Most lawmakers have been mute about the Obama administration’s policy to target a US citizen for assassination. Representative Jane Harman, who serves on the Homeland Security Committee, said recently that Awlaki is “probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No. 1 in terms of threat against us.” One of the few who has spoken against the policy is Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich. “The assassination policies vitiate the presumption of innocence and the government then becomes the investigator, policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury, executioner all in one,” Kucinich told me in April. “That raises the greatest questions with respect to our constitution and our democratic way of life.” He called the policy “extrajudicial.”