News Release

Extrajudicial Killing of U.S. Citizen


VINCENT WARREN, PARDISS KEBRIAEI, via Emily Whitfield, press at, and David Lerner
Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which had previously brought a challenge in federal court to the legality of the authorization to target U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, said today: “The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki by American drone attacks is the latest of many affronts to domestic and international law. The targeted assassination program that started under President Bush and expanded under the Obama administration essentially grants the executive the power to kill any U.S. citizen deemed a threat, without any judicial oversight, or any of the rights afforded by our Constitution. If we allow such gross overreaches of power to continue, we are setting the stage for increasing erosions of civil liberties and the rule of law.”

Kebriaei, a CCR senior staff attorney, added: “In dismissing our complaint, the district court noted that there were nonetheless ‘disturbing questions’ raised by the authority being asserted by the United States. There certainly are disturbing questions that need to be asked again, and answered by the U.S. government about the circumstances of the killing and the legal standard that governed it.”

Further information on CCR’s challenge to targeted killings is online at

SHEILA CARAPICO, scarapic at
Carapico is author of “Civil Society in Yemen: The Political Economy of Activism in Modern Arabia,” professor of political science and international studies at the University of Richmond; until recently she was visiting at the American University in Cairo. Carapico said today: “This is an extra-judicial execution of an American citizen, Anwar Nasr al-Awlaki, for allegedly inspiring crimes allegedly committed by Nidal Malik Hasan (‘the Fort Hood shooter’) and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (‘the underwear bomber’), both of whom remain suspects awaiting trials in the United States. Such an action further weakens the rule of law and military restraint in Yemen. Furthermore it might add fire to combustible fuel on the ground. Americans should at least refrain from cheering.

“Furthermore, at a time when the Obama administration is purportedly urging Yemen’s physically and politically disabled president to acquiesce to popular demands that he step aside, this incident allows President Salih to brag to his people about his close alliance with the United States against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.”

Al-Arabiya reports today: “Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters called on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit, in a mass protest after Friday prayers a day after the embattled leader said he will not step down. … Saleh, who is under international pressure to relinquish power and allow new elections, returned to the country on Sept. 23, sparking violence in which scores have been killed.”

See Glenn Greenwald: “The Due-Process-Free Assassination of U.S. Citizens is Now Reality”

ACLU, CCR seek to have Obama enjoined from killing Awlaki without due process”

Background: From November 28, 2010: “WikiLeaks: Yemen covered up U.S. drone strikes: The Yemeni government covered up U.S. drone strikes against al-Qaeda there and claimed the bombs were its own, according to the WikiLeaks documents,” which states: “according to a leaked document from January, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told Gen David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, that: ‘We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.’ The conversation was reported in a diplomatic cable sent back to Washington by a U.S. diplomat in Yemen.”