The US government now formally admits that it has killed four Americans in drone strikes, while continuing to assert that it has the right to do so and that it is ‘consistent’ with American law.
In his letter to Congressional leaders, Mr. Holder confirmed that the administration had deliberately killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who died in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen. Mr. Holder also wrote that United States forces had killed three other Americans who “were not specifically targeted.”
The American involvement in Mr. Awlaki’s death has been widely reported, but the administration until now had refused to confirm it. Likewise, Mr. Holder confirmed the government’s role in the deaths of Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike, and Mr. Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who died in another strike. The letter disclosed the death of a fourth American named Jude Kenan Mohammad but gave no further details.
Mr. Holder defended the actions, saying they were consistent with American law and taken only after careful consideration. “Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down during World War II, as well as during the current conflict, it is clear and logical that United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted,” he wrote.
Critics were not assuaged. “The Obama administration continues to claim authority to kill virtually anyone anywhere in the world under the ‘global battlefield’ legal theory and a radical redefinition of the concept of imminence,” said Zeke Johnson of Amnesty International. “President Obama should reject these concepts in his speech tomorrow and commit to upholding human rights, not just in word but in deed.”
The murdering of three of them were already known but the death of the fourth Jude Kenan Mohammad in Pakistan is new information.
I wonder what impact this will have on Anwar al-Awlaki’s father’s case against the US government to stop the targeted killing of his son that was dismissed back in 2010. Now that the government has admitted that they targeted and killed him, his father’s suit may be revived though I am not hopeful that he will win. A federal judge has already asked the government what impact this new disclosure has on the lawsuit that the killing was unconstitutional and a hearing has been set for July 19.