From: USA Today
COMMENT - And I continue to say, take away the drone contractors and the military will have to use paper planes.
Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A federal judge expressed deep reservations Friday about the authority of the government to carry out targeted killings of Americans in counterterrorism drone strikes abroad and appeared to reject a Justice Department argument that the courts had no role in one of the most controversial parts of the nation's security strategy.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer did not immediately rule on a government request to dismiss legal challenges to the killings of three Americans, including al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, brought by civil rights advocates and Anwar's father, Nasser al-Awlaki. But she strongly questioned the government's assertion that the courts were "not in a position to second-guess'' security officials when faced with an imminent threat.
"Your argument is that the court has no role in this — none, none none,'' U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer told Brian Hauk, deputy assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Civil Division. "I find that a little disconcerting. The scope of your argument concerns me. It gobbles up all the air in the room. ... The most important part of the United States is that it is a nation of laws.''
The advocates, representing the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Anwar's father, allege that the killings of al-Awlaki, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, the force behind the influential jihadist magazine known as Inspire, violated U.S. law.
"The killings were part of a broader program of 'targeted killing' by the United States outside the context of the armed conflict and based on vague legal standards, a closed executive process and evidence never presented to the courts,'' the groups said.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged that four Americans had been killed in counterterrorism drone strikes since 2009, including the al-Awlakis and Khan. MORE