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Groups Launch Court Challenge to Stop Obama Assassination of U.S. Citizen  

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Interview with Jonathan Manes, legal fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project,
conducted by Scott Harris

assassination In testimony before Congress in February, President Obama's director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, declared that the president reserves the right to have the CIA carry out assassinations against U.S. citizens who are engaged in terrorist activity. His comments before the House Intelligence Committee were directed at Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who is thought to be living in Yemen. Al-Awlaki, who was born in Las Cruces new Mexico, is accused of being a leader in al-Qaeda, whose sermons were attended by three of the 9-11 hijackers. Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and the failed "Christmas Day bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab both say they met with, and were inspired and/or trained by al-Awlaki.

During the first week of August, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to obtain a license which is required under federal regulations to represent anyone named as a "specially designated global terrorist," which al-Awlaki was about two weeks after his father Nasser, retained the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights to represent him in an effort to stop the government's "targeted killing."

The Treasury Department responded to the suit by granting the license on Aug. 4, clearing the way for the two groups to seek a federal court injunction preventing the Obama administration from assassinating al-Awlaki without due process of law. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project. He explains the important precedents being established in the court challenge to the Obama administration's self-declared authority to assassinate U.S. citizens outside war zones without charge, trial or any constitutional checks and balances.

For more information on the lawsuit, call the ACLU at (202) 457-0800 or visit the websites and

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