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Tuesday
Dec072010

Court Rules Executive Branch May Target Anwar Al-Awlaki

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a victory for the Obama administration, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the governments' authority to assassinate Anwar Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen hiding in Yemen.

Awlaki is a member of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He has been linked to the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009, the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas by Army Maj. Nidal Hasan and the recent seizure of bomb-making materials in the cargo of two planes.

According to ABC's Martha Raddatz, President Obama himself has authorized the targeted killing of Awlaki in Yemen, where he is believed to be hiding.

Two public interest groups, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, had filed the suit on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki's father, Nasser al- Awlaki. They sought a declaration from the court that the Constitution and international law prohibit the government from carrying out targeted killings outside of armed conflict, except as a last resort to protect against imminent threats of death.

But U.S. District Judge John Bates found the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case because it was brought by Awlaki's father, instead of Awlaki himself. Furthermore, the judge agreed with the government that the issue of whether Awlaki poses a national security threat to the United States is best left to the political branches and not the Court.

At a news conference Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Tony West said, "We are pleased with the court's ruling. People need to remember that this really was an unprecedented case in which the plaintiffs were asking a court to review military decisions for the benefit of a leader of a foreign terrorist organization. And as we said when we filed this case, if Anwar al-Awlaki wants to access our court systems he ought to surrender to the authorities and be held accountable for his actions.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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