al-Aulaki v. Obama (D.D.C. Aug. 30, 2010)

* al-Aulaki v. Obama (D.D.C. Aug. 30, 2010) (complaint in civil suit challenging use of lethal force outside theater of conventional combat operations)

The ACLU has filed a complaint on behalf of Nasser al-Aulaki, father of Anwar al-Aulaki—an American citizen living in Yemen said to be involved with al Qaeda and linked to, among other things, the failed Christmas Day airline bomb plot. The suit is, in brief, a challenge to the government’s assertion of authority to use lethal force outside of conventional war zones, except in limited circumstances involving imminent harm.

The suit alleges the following causes of action:

First Claim for Relief

Fourth Amendment: Right to be Free from Unreasonable Seizure

27. Defendants’ policy of targeted killings violates the Fourth Amendment by authorizing, outside of armed conflict, the seizure, in the form of targeted killing, of U.S. citizens, including Plaintiff’s son, in circumstances in which they do not present concrete, specific, and imminent threats to life or physical safety, and where there are means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize any such threat. Plaintiff brings this claim as next friend for his son.

Second Claim for Relief

Fifth Amendment: Right Not to be Deprived of Life Without Due Process

28. Defendants’ policy of targeted killings violates the Fifth Amendment by authorizing, outside of armed conflict, the killing of U.S. citizens, including Plaintiff’s son, without due process of law in circumstances in which they do not present concrete, specific, and imminent threats to life or physical safety, and where there are means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize any such threat. Plaintiff brings this claim as next friend for his son.

Third Claim for Relief

Alien Tort Statute: Extrajudicial Killing

29. Defendants’ policy of targeted killings violates treaty and customary international law by authorizing, outside of armed conflict, the killing of individuals, including Plaintiff’s son, without judicial process in circumstances in which they do not present concrete, specific, and imminent threats to life or physical safety, and where there are means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize any such threat. Plaintiff brings this claim in his own right to prevent the injury he would suffer if Defendants were to kill his son.

Fourth Claim for Relief

Fifth Amendment: Due Process Notice Requirements

30. Defendants’ policy of targeted killings outside of armed conflict violates the Fifth Amendment by authorizing the killing of U.S. citizens, including Plaintiff’s son, on the basis of criteria that are secret. Plaintiff brings this claim as next friend for his son.

As for the relief sought:

For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff Nasser Al-Aulaqi requests that the Court:

a. Declare that, outside of armed conflict, the Constitution prohibits Defendants from carrying out the targeted killing of U.S. citizens, including Plaintiff’s son, except in circumstances in which they present concrete, specific, and imminent threats to life or physical safety, and there are no means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize the threats.

b. Declare that, outside of armed conflict, treaty and customary international law prohibit Defendants from carrying out the targeted killing of individuals, including Plaintiff’s son, except in circumstances in which they present concrete, specific, and imminent threats to life or physical safety, and there are no means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize the threats.

c. Enjoin Defendants from intentionally killing U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi unless he presents a concrete, specific, and imminent threat to life or physical safety, and there are no means other than lethal force that could reasonably be employed to neutralize the threat.

d. Order Defendants to disclose the criteria that are used in determining whether the government will carry out the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen.

e. Grant any other and further relief as is appropriate and necessary.

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