Lawsuit Filed Against the U.S. Military and CIA Over Drone Assassination Program
July 18th, 2012
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The legality ofÂ Americaâs drone-based âtargeted killingâ programÂ hasÂ recently come under fire in court, although mostly overÂ the generalÂ basis on which the government can claim thatÂ meeting in secret to decideÂ someoneâs deathÂ counts as due process.
Unfortunately,Â lawyersÂ for the government continue to invoke the privilege of state secrecy in order to avoid even having to confirm or deny that such a program exists to begin with, never mind actually addressing the legal basis for the practice.
Now the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the AmericanÂ Civil Liberties UnionÂ (ACLU) have joined forces to fight on behalf of family members of three Americans who were murdered last year in drone strikes in Yemen.
TheÂ lawsuitÂ targets top-ranking United States government officials, alleging that they actually killed the three Americans, including a 16-year-old boy.
They allege that this action violated internationalÂ human rightsÂ law andÂ the United States Constitution itself, a fact echoed byÂ human rights layers stating that British civilians are actually âparties to murdersâ which are carried out by U.S. drones.
ThisÂ lawsuitÂ is groundbreaking, to say the least, and is the firstÂ lawsuitÂ to actually challenge the legality of specific killings as well as the first to argue that the U.S. was not actually engaged in an armed conflict in Yemen at the time of the killing, thereby prohibiting the use of lethal force.
The ACLU and CCR are both quite critical of the drone program in general, stating that it is responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of deaths of innocent civilians.
However, there are some exceptions for the use of lethal force in an area where the U.S. is not engaged in an armed conflict. Lethal force is prohibited in all cases except when âat the time it is applied, lethal force is a last resort to protect against a concrete, specific, and imminent threat of death or serious physicalÂ injury.â
The ACLU and CCR are thus directly challenging the governmentâs authority to decide to kill Americans in cold blood without any meaningful judicial scrutiny whatsoever.
âThe government has killed three Americans. It should account for its actions. This case gives us an opportunity to do that,â said deputy legal director for the ACLU Jameel Jaffer in a press call, according toÂ Threat Level.
Essentially, according to Jaffer, âthe question is whether the government is justified in killing without charging them or trying them for anything.â
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