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Nasser Al-Awlaki wants answers in drone strike killing of American grandson in Yemen

Nasser al-Awlaki says a US drone killed his grandson.
Nasser al-Awlaki says a US drone killed his grandson.
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On the eve of his court case commencing against the U.S. government, Nasser al-Awlaki makes an emotional plea in today's New York Times. He explains why he's suing over the drone strike killing of his son, Anwar, and his grandson, Abdulrahman. The former was a confessed al Qaeda leader killed in a targeted strike in September 2011. The latter was 16 years old when he was allegedly collateral damage in a drone strike in October 2011. Both were American citizens at the time, on Yemeni soil.

The ACLU, co-counsel for al-Awlaki, argues the killing violated the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process. The Obama administration has defended the strikes. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has said, "[Such strikes] are necessary to mitigate ongoing, actual threats, to stop plots, to prevent further attacks and, again, to save American lives."

The Administration says the strikes are legal and ethical. What are the merits of this lawsuit? Would the US government have a better case if it had conducted judicial review prior to the drone strikes?


Brett Max Kaufman, National Security Fellow in the ACLU's National Security Project, American Civil Liberties Union

Marc Thiessen, Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; he specializes in counter-terrorism; Former speechwriter for then President George W. Bush and then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.