portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

imperialism & war | police / legal

Obama Targeted Killings Violate the Constitution and International Law

"A program that authorizes killing U.S. citizens, without judicial
oversight, due process or disclosed standards is unconstitutional,
unlawful and un-American."
The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have filed a
lawsuit challenging the government's asserted authority to carry out
"targeted killings" of U.S. citizens located far from any armed
conflict zone.

The authority contemplated by the Obama administration is far broader
than what the Constitution and international law allow, the groups
charge. Outside of armed conflict, both the Constitution and
international law prohibit targeted killing except as a last resort to
protect against concrete, specific and imminent threats of death or
serious physical injury. An extrajudicial killing policy under which
names are added to CIA and military "kill lists" through a secret
executive process and stay there for months at a time is plainly not
limited to imminent threats.

The groups charge that targeting individuals for execution who are
suspected of terrorism but have not been convicted or even
charged-without oversight, judicial process or disclosed
standards for placement on kill lists-also poses the risk that
the government will erroneously target the wrong people. In recent
years, the U.S. government has detained many men as terrorists, only
for courts or the government itself to discover later that the
evidence was wrong or unreliable.

"A program that authorizes killing U.S. citizens, without judicial
oversight, due process or disclosed standards is unconstitutional,
unlawful and un-American," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director
of the ACLU. "We don't sentence people to prison on the basis of
secret criteria, and we certainly shouldn't sentence them to death
that way. It is not enough for the executive branch to say 'trust
us'-we have seen that backfire in the past and we should learn
from those mistakes."

The complaint asks a court to rule that using lethal force far from
any battlefield and without judicial process is illegal in all but the
narrowest circumstances and to prohibit the government from carrying
out targeted killings except in compliance with these standards. It
also asks the court to order the government to disclose the standards
it uses to place U.S. citizens on government kill lists.