Snowpocalypse and Obama’s Drone Talk

As I’ve said a few times, I suspect one reason the Administration may be acting so ridiculously with respect to drones is because the families of Anwar and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and Samir Khan are suing for wrongful death. The ace in the hole the Administration would use to dismiss that suit would normally be state secrets. But as more and more officials discuss aspects of the drone program, it will be harder to sustain any state secrets invocation if they need one (though that didn’t help the Jeppesen plaintiffs). And if the suit goes forward, there might be really interesting claims exposed, more so with Samir Khan (who no one has accused of being operational) and Abdulrahman than Anwar al-Awlaki.

That is, recent events have made it more likely that wrongful death suit will turn into precisely what Steve Vladeck has proposed for targeted killings of Americans, a real review of the killings.

And that may be more true after the President makes some kind of public statement on drones, as Eric Holder suggested yesterday he would (see 53:00 and following).

What you will hear from the President in a relatively short period of time is, uh–I don’t want to preempt this, but we talked about a need for greater transparency, in what we share, what we talk about. Because I am really confident that if the American people had access, for example–some of this stuff cannot be shared. I understand that. But at least the representatives of the American people had the ability–as members of the Intelligence Committee have been able to see–some of those OLC opinions, there would be a greater degree of comfort that people would have to understand that this government does these things reluctantly, but also we do it in conformity with international law, with domestic law, and with our values as of the American people.

And so I think there is going to be a greater effort at transparency, a number of steps are going to be taken–I expect you are going to hear the President speaking, about this.

Which is why I find it interesting that DOJ used the overblown snowpocalpyse to request a two-day delay in its reply to ACLU’s response to the government’s motion to dismiss the wrongful death suit. Judge Rosemary Collyer granted the request, giving DOJ the weekend to write its brief. After all, DOJ has had a full month to write their brief, and it can be filed remotely. They didn’t ask for a delay because of not-snow. I suspect they asked for a delay because the Administration is in the middle of changing its approach to targeted killing transparency.

That doesn’t mean they’re about to let a judge review their legal case for killing Awlaki and friends. But it likely does mean they need to account for how a Presidential speech acknowledging drone killing will affect this suit.

2 replies
  1. livin it up in Jeddah at Idi's place says:

    “In conformity with international law,” nyuk, nyuk, he cheesed up a little in his mouth when he said that.

    We’ll soon enjoy the comedy gold of US officials trying to explain how their extrajudicial killings comply with CCPR Articles 4 and 6, and how Jim Steele’s Iraqi abattoir complies with the Convention Against Torture. Not in pathetic US courts. Not in congress. No one in congress dares to bring it up.

    It’s coming up in embarrassing ways in three separate UN special procedures. Next it will come up in the Human Rights Committee and the Committee Against Torture (although CIA Puppet Ruler Obama is dragging his feet on required reports to hide from the committees.) It will come up again in the Human Rights Council, which now accepts complaints from victims. The information that accretes will support legal cases against the state and US officials: in the ICJ and eventually, as US official impunity increasingly stinks up the place, in foreign courts and the ICC.

    We’re going to wind up with a growing over-the-hill gang of executioners and genocidaires who are scared to set foot outside the country. They’ll give each other speeches, and stand and clap and sing God Bless America, and wipe their patriotic tears.

  2. thatvisionthing says:

    You know, if I was proofreading this, I’d make the following changes:

    Administration would be administration

    President would be president

    Presidential would be presidential

    And though the dictionary tells me that you capitalize Constitution but not constitutional, I have decided to capitalize Constitutional. Civil disobedience rules!

    And if Holder or Obama comes on TV, I would turn it off.

    Just me and mho

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