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ACLU Statement on Killing of Anwar Al-Aulaqi

[Anwar Al-Aulaqi. Image from unknown archive] [Anwar Al-Aulaqi. Image from unknown archive]

[The following statement was issued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on 30 September 2011.]

NEW YORK – U.S. airstrikes in Yemen today killed Anwar Al-Aulaqi, an American citizen who has never been charged with any crime.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said, "The targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law. As we've seen today, this is a program under which American citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process, and on the basis of standards and evidence that are kept secret not just from the public but from the courts. The government's authority to use lethal force against its own citizens should be limited to circumstances in which the threat to life is concrete, specific and imminent. It is a mistake to invest the President – any President – with the unreviewable power to kill any American whom he deems to present a threat to the country."

ACLU National Security Project Litigation Director Ben Wizner said, "Outside the theater of war, the use of lethal force is lawful only as a last resort to counter an imminent threat of deadly attack. Based on the administration's public statements, the program that the President has authorized is far more sweeping. If the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the President does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state."

More information on the government's targeted killing policy is available at: www.aclu.org/targetedkillings

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

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