The Most Important Court Case You May Never Have Heard Of


Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

It has not made a lot of noise in the main stream media, but recently, an important case filed jointly by the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging the Department of Justice and the Obama Administration’s drone war was argued in front of Judge Rosemary Collyer.  That case is Anwar Al-Aulaqi vs. Panetta, et al and it was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in 2012.  You can find the filing here.

What makes this case so important is that it was filed on behalf of the estate of a 16-year-old American citizen who was killed by an American drone strike, along with other victims,  in Yemen in 2011.  Recently the United States Department of Justice presented a defense that is quite striking. 

“Another thing you should know is the specific defense the government is mounting in this case. As the New York Times reported, the Obama administration’s Deputy Attorney General Brian Hauck first declared that courts have no right to oversee executive-branch decisions to extrajudicially assassinate Americans. He also insisted that the White House already provides adequate due process for those it kills, prompting federal judge Rosemary Collyer to point out that “the executive is not an effective check on the executive.” The fact that the judge needed to issue such a reminder speaks volumes about an administration utterly unconcerned with constitutional governance.

But perhaps the most important thing to know about this case is what the government is arguing about the law itself. In defending the administration, Hauck asserted that such suits should not be permitted because they “don’t want these counterterrorism officials distracted by the threat of litigation.” ‘ Nationofchange

Yes, you read that correctly.  The Department of Defense is arguing that officials should not be bothered by having to defend themselves against possible illegal actions!  Does anyone here find that notion a little arrogant?  I have to commend Judge Collyer for her succinct reminder that the law does not consider any branch of the government is a proper check on itself.

The author of the aforementioned Nation of Change op-ed suggests that President Obama is taking a page out of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s playbook by mounting this kind of legal defense to what many consider an extrajudicial killing of an American citizen.  Not to rain on Dick Cheney’s parade, however, I actually think this mentality actually harkens back to President Richard Nixon who basically stated that if the President does it, it must be legal.

While this case is still ongoing, I consider it important to shed as much sunlight as I can on this kind of outrageous Executive branch over reach.  It is one thing to authorize possibly illegal spying, it is quite another matter to order the killing of American citizens without judicial due process.

As Scotusblog described the filing of the lawsuit, “While the lawsuit seeks a sweeping judicial condemnation of the drone policy, it specifically seeks to have a court rule that Panetta, Petraeus, and the other two officials “authorized and directed” the killing of the three citizens specifically, that at the time of the killings themselves none of the three presented “a concrete, specific, and imminent threat to life,” and that there were other means short of killing them to deal with any such threat.   None of the three at the time, the lawsuit asserted, was directly taking part in “hostilities within the meaning of the law of war.”

Is the request that the Executive Branch and the Department of Defense and the CIA should actually follow the law and the Constitution, asking too much?  Do you think that this case has a chance to be successful?  Will it eventually reach the Supreme Court and if so, do you think the Supreme Court will rubber stamp this taking of an American citizen’s life without due process?  How would you rule?

90 thoughts on “The Most Important Court Case You May Never Have Heard Of”

  1. sonof thunder,
    Thanks, but I think if you reread my article, I did not suggest that other Americans were killed in this particular strike. I just said other victims. Secondly, if the killing of this American citizen was accidental, why isn’t that part of the defense used in the lawsuit? Even if you are correct, doesn’t the type of defense being utilized concern you?

  2. L.K. Some of the largest anti-war protest were occurring under Bush. The millions of people who came out before the Iraq war were barely covered by the US media.

    There were regular vigils and protests in many cities under Bush. They were not huge numbers but they were every week and in some cases there were large numbers.

    There was an examination of how the peace movement dried up under Obama. I will try to find it for you. In fact, the peace movement did shrink under Obama. If you asked people in Ann Arbor why they were no longer protesting wars, they would say Obama had ended them or was trying to end them. Obama is highly popular at U. Michigan, speaking at their graduation in 09? Only a few students and people remained speaking out there. In Toledo, more people stayed active, I think because our economy is stripped out, making certain types of propaganda (such as the economy is fabulous!) not work quite as well here.

    These are my personal experiences but they mirror nation wide information. Ann Wright, a peace activist who spoke in 2007? in Toledo said openly that she would be protesting under Obama, no illusions about that. I remember when she said that many people were aghast. They were certain that Obama was a man of peace, that he would not possibly start any wars.

    There is an anti-war movement beginning again. It started getting better with Occupy. Even Ann Arbor has protests against the war! So what Cindy is saying rings very true to my own experience. Still, I would like to find some links for you and will try to do that now.

  3. ARE: “As all may have noticed, Jill and others falsify or ignore history to suit their political ends. Facts mean nothing, just their conviction that any use of military force by the US is bad no matter what. So we have seen no rational answer to the facts that have been presented in answer to their libels. The simple reason is that they have no case at all, and they know it. Then they wonder why it is that more people do not join them in their delusions. Incredible.”

    “So we have seen no rational answer to the facts that have been presented…” Really? Why is that? Why can’t anyone in general in the public sphere or even on a blog as contentious as this one can come up with a rationale- or a cost benefit analysis- that isn’t sneered at or called out as false?

    “Rational or persuasive” IMO and the bumbling, lying and dying for profit started way before Iraq, but really, being lied into a war of convenience and projected profit in Iraq kind of just destroyed any government credibility that was left after the Southeast Asia wars. The plan was, from Bushco’s mouths to America’s ears was ‘Go in, f*ck shi* up, we’ll be loved as liberators and their oil (which we would get somehow) will pay for the war which will last 6 months or less’. Yeah, get back to me when there’s a plan and an enemy we can actually identify and localize. Unless it’s the Saudis. Yeah, I was calling BS on that real time and if you weren’t you’re behind the curve as is/was SOTB.

  4. @randyjet – Randy you need to dig a LITTLE further. Roland did NOT have a gun on him. He was reaching for his cell phone. You can see the whole assassination on YouTube as the LEO vehicle camera caught it all! Also the local Police Chief, FBI field office, and the local CIA office all knew who Roland was and what he was working on. If you dig a little deeper you too can discover what he was working on and why the bad guys needed him out of the way. The two alleged assassin cops were Sgt. Andrew Washington (African-American) and Officer Cecil Foster (European-American). Two men who will never be brought up on charges of LEO bribery. Why? As you know cops are never the bad-guys… right? 😉

    The whole reason why Mr. Obama STILL depends on Snowden’s PRISM is probably stemming from what the “bad-guys” where planning for SpaceCity back in 2009.

    A now allegedly paralyzed very powerful old man once said: “We the […] people control America…” – I guess he wasn’t joking…


  5. @Art – (REPOST OF MINE)…

    In a modern world of concurrent “big issues” (endemic of our times I think), I believe it is the “low hanging fruit” for Obama-dissenters to use as part of their low-effort-thinking (NOTE: not meant as an insult!). They use that fruit instead of seeing the self-evident data which is not high-effort thinking on their part. Please read this study by Dr. Scott Eidelman to see what I’m talking about (it’s a PDF about 13 pages long – WORD WALL? But worth skimming at least to use as a future discussion tool (at least bookmark it):

  6. @Art – I believe that after the Invasion of Pearl Harbor HC was suspended for many Japanese-American citizens by POTUS FDR and most that were not in the military service were detained at the 1940’s equivalent to GTMO at several “War Relocation Camps” west of the Mississippi River. SCOTUS supported his EO-9066 (See KOREMATSU v. UNITED STATES).

  7. @Art – and the rational ones that voted for Mr. Obama but now have lost their enthusiasm for him because they now see the “empire has no clothes on” – No disrespect Barry! All I meant was that he has imperfections, he’s only human, he’s made mistakes, etc. What POTUS hasn’t? He is NOT operating ABOVE THE LAW as some would put it. What these people don’t seem to understand is that Mr. Obama is using a FEDERAL LAW approved by Congress WELL before his term in office. It’s called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In it, it authorizes the EXECUTIVE POWER they all seem to be in opposition against. BUT IT WAS APPROVED BY CONGRESS!

    One controversial part (of many), approved this year, is the suspension of Habeas Corpus, which President Lincoln actually did. In the Act HC will NOT be suspended UNLESS an Act of Rebellion (See the Business Plot of 1934) or an Invasion (i.e. Mexico and Japan invaded US). I think that means that LEO’s can hold you indefinitely without due process the way the CIA did in 1964 to 1967 against Yuri Nosenko.

  8. @randyjet – You talk about HPD and murders as if it was PAST-tense… Google or YouTube “Roland Carnaby”. There you will see that not even the CIA is exempt from HPD thugs on the pay of some “friendly” country we are not allowed to talk about (shhhh!). 🙁

    1. Sorry sonof, but HPD did not murder Carnaby. They had a legitimate fear of being shot after he ran from a simple traffic stop and they knew he was armed. The SOP for HPD after a car chase is to beat the person before they take him/.her downtown. They normally do not shoot these people, just beat them within an inch of their lives.

      1. “The SOP for HPD after a car chase is to beat the person before they take him/.her downtown. They normally do not shoot these people, just beat them within an inch of their lives.”

        Soooo….I am supposed to be reassured that the SOP is to beat people prior to adjudication ???

        I mean if the facts are compelling, couldn’t the officers just wait till a judge orders the beating?

        And doesn’t beating seem a bit primitive and at least present the possibility of a law suit based on equal protection.

        If we are going to implement this form of justice shouldn’t we use public flogging and have a judge order a specific number of lashes so that we can assure that similar infractions are given similar punishment?

  9. @Arthur Randolph Erb – Art, what some of these JT posters (i.e. Jill) and even JT don’t seem to understand is that we ARE at war with a group of people NOT a country. I believe Congress approved that under the Bush Admin. They call it GWOT. So any targets-of-opportunity the POTUS authorizes is “fair game”, as hunters say.

    Jill has no clue what Anwar Alawki did to US citizens. He was the leader behind the Ft Hood murders, the underwear bomber, the Times Square bomber, and many more she and others will probably never hear about. It was the President’s press secretary that goofed up about were Anwar was when his son was killed NOT Mr. Obama. Anwar was NOT sitting at a cafe but was dead for 2-weeks.

    His son was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was ashamed that he got engulfed in a HellFire missile strike (BTW not a bomb Mike Murray but just as deadly). His mom, Gihan Mohsen Baker, should have never allowed him to go wandering off into the Yemen desert looking for his (already dead) dad at an alleged BBQ, as he was only 16! Mr. Obama did not target the boy. Can’t you people get that straight?

    1. As all may have noticed, Jill and others falsify or ignore history to suit their political ends. Facts mean nothing, just their conviction that any use of military force by the US is bad no matter what. So we have seen no rational answer to the facts that have been presented in answer to their libels. The simple reason is that they have no case at all, and they know it. Then they wonder why it is that more people do not join them in their delusions. Incredible.

  10. G.Mason 1, August 5, 2013 at 3:33 am

    It is time for a Revolution. It is the only sure way to restore the Constitution.

    Because you TOTALLY misunderstood that only ONE man was targeted (Anwar Alawki) and totally missed his part in the recent murder of MANY US Citizens, you now call for some sort of takeover of the White House?

    You do know that some very bad men at Wall Street (including Senator Prescott Bush (R-CT)) took part in a “revolution” of sorts called the BUSINESS PLOT (Google it).

    They tried to have the American Legion (Connecticut) convince the equivalent to our Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to take military action over the POTUS (FDR at the time) in 1934 and take over the White House (i.e. Major General S.D. Butler). Do you know what form of governance we would have? CORPORATE (i.e. Uber-Capitalists) and pro-NAZI as the Bush Family (et al) has always espoused their admiration for Hitler’s form of governance and also love big money. Their own son (George W, Bush) espoused his love of the US Constituion: “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, It’s just a godd***ed piece of paper!”

    General Butler said wars have always been big money for the corporate-elite. And yes it’s the same today. Except I’m not sure how far Mr. Obama is in that conspiracy, if at all…


  11. @ALL – FYI AMERICAN soldier Pfc Edward Donald Slovik was executed by firing squad on 31-Jan-1945 DURING WW2 for “desertion”. There were many more American soldier executions and many at the “Castle” awaiting their execution today! These executions are tacitly approved by the POTUS or he would have offered clemency.


  12. @Raf – I like you dude but I’m afraid you may be mistaken about this one. Only ONE of the three Americans where targeted on 30Sept-2011 and two weeks later in Yemen. The only TARGETED AMERICAN was Anwar Al-Awlaki! Please Google him to see how many fellow Americans he had killed or tried to kill. He was allegedly the Imam that possessed Major Nidal Hasan to kill all those Americans at Ft Hood TX.

    The other guy, Samir Kahn, was a collateral damage (NOT an innocent bystander); Kahn was an al-Qaeda member responsible for their magazine Inspire. But he was killed by ACCIDENT as he was in the truck with Anwar. The CIA spotter either didn’t know this or didn’t care. Either way Mr. Obama did NOT authorize Samir’s death.

    Then 2 weeks later Anwar’s son, Abdulrahman, went off into the desert looking for his dad, Anwar, not knowing he was killed 2-weeks earlier by the Americans. He was going to what he thought was a BBQ but walked right into another drone strike on an non-American-borne Egyptian al Qeada terrorist. AGAIN an ACCIDENT and not on purpose.

    The US President has always been authorized to order the killing of an enemy-of-the-state without any judicial interference. Take for example Lyndon B. Johnson’s tacit approval of the death of USN sailors and NSA analysts in 1967 off the coast of Israel (Google: USS Liberty). WHat about his APPROVAL of the death of several American soldiers who defected to the Communists during Vietnam War (Google: OperationTailwind; Valley of death). What about Abraham Lincoln’s authorization to kill Americans during the Civil War?

    US Presidents have authorized MANY non-American assassinations like Adolf Hitler, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and his sons, Patrice Lumumba, Juan Peron, Fidel Castro, Ngo Dinh Diem, etc. I don’t understand why Mr. Obama is being criticized for his AUTHORIZED actions to protect OUR lives from very bad guys!

    Anwar Alawki was a VERY bad guy who if left to his evil ways would have done something to US very bad. With the latest so-called “chatter” I’d say we literally “dodged a bullet”. Now as of last couple of days the CIA started Yemeni drone strikes again! All Americans have been ordered to evacuate Yemen NOW!

  13. Jill, something about the article you linked to bothers me:

    “I submit that if George Bush were still president, or if this happened under a McCain/Palin regime, there would be tens of thousands of people in the streets to protest. This is one of the reasons an escalation in police state oppression is so much more dangerous under Obama – even now, he gets a free pass from the very same people who should be adamantly opposed to such policies.”

    I think that is a false premise on which to base disappointment of the left. There just wasn’t much going on by way of public protest of Bush policies during the Bush years. Actually though, there was probably more than I was aware of because the MSM was probably ignoring it and people were caged in “free-speech zones” away from any cameras. Maybe my expectations were to high, I was waiting for something like the Nixon protests. I confess though it was jarring to read that link, I had to check the date, 2010. Didn’t take long for the hammer to come down.

  14. Jill, re Sheehan et al, The left-leaning MSM, such as there is of it, seemed to deep-six people like Olberman and Jenk when they didn’t let up. I stopped reading DailyKos because it seemed to me to take a stick-up-the-butt attitude. I suspect that the period between 911 through the first Obama term is going to keep political analysts and psychologists busy for about 40 years.

  15. Jill,

    And I have apologized for my attitude towards you as well.. If I recall LK stated it pretty accurately…. I am glad that you are back to posting and are here expressing your views…. Thanks for the Sheehan blog spot…..

    As to other poster here… I think Darren got attacked for no particular reason except he’s male…. Oh well…

  16. L.K.

    Thanks for laying out the facts on Patty C. It’s true, there has been a lot of dumping. For me, the suppression of dissent of the left, by the left, really matters. I do wish to share something from Cindy Sheehan with you. She saw it all in 2010 and before. She was one of the people banned from being able to submit articles, then even comments, on Common Dreams, a supposed “liberal” (actually, Democratic party site.) In addition, I wonder how many people know that raw story, another supposed liberal site is actually run by a Paul-brand supporting libertarian. We do not really have a liberal media site.

    The crushing of left wing dissent by those on the left mattered because it kept people from understanding that there was principled, fact based criticism of Obama, the police/deep state, etc. Most people on the left only heard the ridiculous arguments of the right. The real criticism, the kind that mattered, was actively silenced. We needed the voice of left wing dissent. Yet it was taken from us. That’s why I hope it never gets repeated.

  17. “All of your posts were full of invective towards people, which you would not own up to and then you would claim to be “victimized and attacked” when people defended their positions. That’s what drove Patty C. crazy about you and unfortunately she was frustrated to the point of going overboard and was banned.”

    Mike, lets not get into revisionist history of long ago events regarding Patty C. I was around when that started heating up and went back through the archives month by month for nearly two years, or until there weren’t any postings by Jill, to see what started it. Jill just posted what she posted, like she does now, and made no response whatsoever to Patty’s attacks; just ignored them. And there didn’t seem to be anything in particular that started it, it was apparently an ideological difference that Patty C made personal with attacks that were not responded to, at all, by Jill. That’s probably what made Patty crazy about it. It went on for months. JT called for civility, in response to his blawgers (not Jill’s) complaints about Patty, more than once.

    Jill, people get dumped on as a matter of course for their views, the flip side of the coin is SWM. You and she just keep posting what you post and it just pis*es people off. As I recall you were dumped on by folks here in the run-up to the election- as I recall most regular posters were at some point or another. I could be wrong about that and frankly I don’t feel like revisiting that time through the archives but as I recall it was, off and on, ugly.

    Can we not just chill the f*ck out? This blawg started getting really political over the last few years, I thought it might lighten up after 2010 but it hasn’t.

    OTOH, ya’ll can argue all you want over recent personal history but reaching that far back is building a case without a solid foundation. I like reading a good fight as much as the next guy but keep it fresh or I lose interest 🙂

    1. LK,

      Just peruse this thread and see who brought up past history, or was that just another innocent comment on her part.

  18. Despite a mainstream media blackout on the topic, the alternative media is abuzz with this week’s hearing on the constitutionality of the clearly unconstitutional NDAA. In case you don’t remember, section 1021 of the NDAA, which Obama signed into law on December 31 of last year, allows the government to lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely without a trial. At the time of signing, Obama penned a pathetic letter to many of his outraged supporters where he basically said he signed it but he won’t use it. Thanks pal!

    In any event, the Administration is showing its true colors by appealing an injunction that judge Katherine Forrest issued against it in May. The injunction was in response to the lawsuit filed by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges and others. While the NDAA clearly vaporizes the 5th and 6th Amendments of the Constitution, I believe the real target is the 1st Amendment. By having a law on the books that allows the government to arbitrarily lock anyone up and throw away the key, the government is actually trying to instill enough fear in people that they self-censor speech and become too afraid to criticize the criminal elite political and economic oligarchy.

    Tangerine Bolen is one the lead plaintiffs in the suit against the government and she penned a powerful piece for the UK’s Guardian. Here are some key quotes:

    I am one of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the president the power to hold any US citizen anywhere for as long as he wants, without charge or trial.

    In a May hearing, Judge Katherine Forrest issued an injunction against it; this week, in a final hearing in New York City, US government lawyers asserted even more extreme powers – the right to disregard entirely the judge and the law. On Monday 6 August, Obama’s lawyers filed an appeal to the injunction – a profoundly important development that, as of this writing, has been scarcely reported.

    Judge Forrest had ruled for a temporary injunction against an unconstitutional provision in this law, after government attorneys refused to provide assurances to the court that plaintiffs and others would not be indefinitely detained for engaging in first amendment activities. At that time, twice the government has refused to define what it means to be an “associated force”, and it claimed the right to refrain from offering any clear definition of this term, or clear boundaries of power under this law.

    This past week’s hearing was even more terrifying. Government attorneys again, in this hearing, presented no evidence to support their position and brought forth no witnesses. Most incredibly, Obama’s attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA’s section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest’s injunction.

    Full article here.

    I would also take the time to watch this short video from one of the co-counsels on the case as to exactly what the government is arguing in court. Not a word from the mainstream media on the most important court case in American history. One that will decide the fate of a law that will effectively dismantle at least a third of The Bill of Rights.

    Please share this with everyone that cares about Liberty and The Republic.

  19. There is a name for this type of blatant disregard for the rule of law:


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