This afternoon, the ACLU and the left-wing Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) are back in court with a wrongful death suit against the U.S. officials involved in the targeted killing of the American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as Awlaki’s son and American-born al-Qaeda terrorist trainer and propagandist Samir Khan. The New York Times reports:
Relatives of three American citizens killed in drone strikes in Yemen last year filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against four senior national security officials on Wednesday. The suit, in the Federal District Court here, opened a new chapter in the legal wrangling over the Obama administration’s use of drones in pursuit of terrorism suspects away from traditional “hot” battlefields like Afghanistan….
Accused in the suit of authorizing and directing the strikes are Leon E. Panetta, the secretary of defense; David H. Petraeus, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and two senior commanders of the military’s Special Operations forces, Adm. William H. McRaven of the Navy and Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Votel of the Army.
“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,” the complaint says.
In its announcement of the suit, CCR declared:
Our suit seeks accountability for those killed. It seeks some modicum of justice for Abdulrahman, the boy whose family could not give a proper burial because he was blown to pieces by a U.S. missile, and who the United States never alleged committed any harm. Our suit seeks to ensure that there are no more Abdulrahmans in the future, that no more individuals are needlessly killed in dangerously expanding covert U.S. wars that must end.
Well, if it’s accountability they want, then why isn’t President Obama a defendant in the suit? After all, a recent New York Times story which reported leaked classified details of the drone program revealed that Obama personally selects “every new name on an expanding ‘kill list’” of terrorists to be vaporized — including that of Awlaki. White House officials bragged to the Times how Obama “approves lethal action without handwringing,” and how he had told aides that the decision to kill Awlaki with a drone was an “easy one.”
So why, pray tell, are the ACLU and CCR suing Panetta, Petraeus, McRaven, and Votel — but not the president of the United States? After all, Obama boasted that he personally gave the kill order.