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ACLU Targeted Killing Lawsuit

ACLU Targeted Killing Lawsuit

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Published by Michael Pancier
NASSER AL-AULAQI et al. v. Panetta, et al.
NASSER AL-AULAQI et al. v. Panetta, et al.

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Published by: Michael Pancier on Aug 09, 2012
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01/12/2013

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA NASSER AL-AULAQI,as personal representative of the estates of ANWAR AL-AULAQI andABDULRAHMAN AL-AULAQIc/o American Civil Liberties Unionof the Nation’s Capital4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 434Washington, D.C. 20008,SARAH KHAN,as personal representative of the estate of SAMIR KHANc/o American Civil Liberties Unionof the Nation’s Capital4301 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 434Washington, D.C. 20008,Plaintiffs,v.LEON C. PANETTA,Secretary of Defense1000 Defense PentagonWashington, D.C. 20301-1000,WILLIAM H. MCRAVEN,Commander, Special Operations Command7701 Tampa Point BoulevardMacDill Air Force Base, FL 33621-5323,JOSEPH VOTEL,Commander, Joint Special Operations CommandP.O. Box 70239Fort Bragg, N.C. 28307,DAVID H. PETRAEUS,Director, Central Intelligence AgencyCentral Intelligence AgencyWashington, D.C. 20505,All in their individual capacities,Defendants. No. 12-cv-_____ 
Case 1:12-cv-01192-RMC Document 3 Filed 07/18/12 Page 1 of 17
 
2
COMPLAINT(Violation of Fourth and Fifth Amendments and Bill of Attainder Clause – targetedkilling)INTRODUCTION
 1.
 
Since 2001, and routinely since 2009, the United States has carried outdeliberate and premeditated killings of suspected terrorists overseas. The U.S. practice of “targeted killing” has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, including manyhundreds of civilian bystanders. While some targeted killings have been carried out inthe context of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many have taken place outside thecontext of armed conflict, in countries including Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, andthe Philippines. These killings rely on vague legal standards, a closed executive process,and evidence never presented to the courts. This case concerns the role of DefendantsLeon C. Panetta, William H. McRaven, Joseph Votel, and David H. Petraeus(collectively, “Defendants”) in authorizing and directing the killing of three Americancitizens in Yemen last year. The killings violated fundamental rights afforded to all U.S.citizens, including the right not to be deprived of life without due process of law.
 
2.
 
In late 2009 or early 2010, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, an American citizen, was addedto “kill lists” maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) and the JointSpecial Operations Command (“JSOC”), a component of the Department of Defense(“DOD”). On September 30, 2011, unmanned CIA and JSOC drones fired missiles atAnwar Al-Aulaqi and his vehicle, killing him and at least three other people, includingSamir Khan, another American citizen. Defendants authorized and directed their subordinates to carry out the strike.
Case 1:12-cv-01192-RMC Document 3 Filed 07/18/12 Page 2 of 17
 
33.
 
On October 14, 2011, Defendants authorized and directed another drone strikein Yemen, this one approximately 200 miles away from the strike that had killed Anwar Al-Aulaqi and Samir Khan two weeks earlier. The October 14 strike killed at least seven people at an open-air restaurant, including two children. One of the children was 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, who was Anwar Al-Aulaqi’s son and also an Americancitizen.4.
 
Defendants’ killing of Anwar Al-Aulaqi was unlawful. At the time of thekilling, the United States was not engaged in an armed conflict with or within Yemen.Outside the context of armed conflict, both the United States Constitution andinternational human rights law prohibit the use of lethal force unless, at the time it isapplied, lethal force is a last resort to protect against a concrete, specific, and imminentthreat of death or serious physical injury. Upon information and belief, Anwar Al-Aulaqiwas not engaged in activities that presented such a threat, and the use of lethal forceagainst him was not a last resort. Even in the context of an armed conflict, the law of war cabins the government’s authority to use lethal force and prohibits killing civilians whoare not directly participating in hostilities. The concept of “direct participation” requires both a causal and temporal nexus to hostilities. Upon information and belief, Defendantsdirected and authorized the killing of Anwar Al-Aulaqi even though he was not thendirectly participating in hostilities within the meaning of the law of war.5.
 
Defendants’ killing of Samir Khan and Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi was alsounlawful. Upon information and belief, neither Samir Khan nor Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqiwas engaged in any activity that presented a concrete, specific, and imminent threat tolife; nor was either of them directly participating in hostilities. The news media have
Case 1:12-cv-01192-RMC Document 3 Filed 07/18/12 Page 3 of 17

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