Earlier this week, NBC News revealed a secret Department of Justice memo entitled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force.”
Or even less, what considerations—legal and otherwise—went into justifying their demise?
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights (The CCR) have been demanding a court hearing in the United States to determine whether the former head of the CIA Leon Panetta was guilty of having depriving Nasser al-Awlak and his son of their constitutional right to life.
Maria LaHood, an attorney with the CCR frankly admitted to me that they are concentrating on the two American cases, because that’s the really the only way to get Americans to focus on the problem. Also because that’s really the best hope they have of getting an American court to actually agree to hear their case.
‘What we’re also hoping” she says, “is that if we do get anywhere with this case, then we can get a legal interpretation from the court that would apply to everyone--not just Americans. But getting a court to hear this case is going to be a battle in itself.”
What particularly concerns Reprieve attorney Jennifer Gibson is the very nature of the convoluted 16-page memo that describes the Justice Department’s rationale for okaying the killing of an American, even outside of a war zone.
“If the U.S. has such vague, ambiguous standards where Americans are concerned, if they they’ve set the bar so low for their own citizens, who knows what the standards are for killing non Americans?”
In other words, if Justice Department lawyers labored so mightily on producing a memo setting the guidelines for killing an American citizen, one can only presume that the guidelines must be much different for those who inhabit the rest of the world.