Is it Legal for the U.S. to Kill a 16-year-old U.S. Citizen with a Drone?

July 20, 2012

16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi was one of three U.S. citizens killed by U.S. drone strikes in Yemen last year.  Abdulrahman was eating at a restaurant with his teenage cousin when they and 5 others were torn to shreds.  Abdulrahman was not accused of any crime.

This video about Abdulrahman, including photos of him as a young child and an interview with his grandfather, is hard to watch. But it tells the human story of drone killing in a way words can’t.

The Obama Administration has tried to justify drone killings by, in part, claiming they fully comply with domestic and international law.

But the Obama Administration is wrong on the law.

On Tuesday, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit in U.S court against CIA and military officials over the deaths of Abdulrahman and the two other American citizens killed with drones–including his father, the controversial Anwar Al-Aulaqi–because:

“These killings, undertaken without due process, in circumstances where lethal force was not a last resort to address a specific, concrete and imminent threat, and where the government failed to take required measures to protect bystanders, rises to a violation of the most elementary constitutional right afforded to all U.S. citizens – deprivation of life without due process of law.”

Last month, Amnesty International published a report, USA: ‘Targeted Killing’ Policies Violate the Right to Life,” that reviewed U.S. drone policies and practices in light of international law. The report found that:

“While some of the killings in question, if conducted in the context of specific armed conflicts, for instance in Afghanistan or at some times in some parts of Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, may not violate international human rights or international humanitarian law, the policy appears also to permit extrajudicial executions in violation of international human rights law, virtually anywhere in the world.”

The realization that the U.S. government’s drone policy – still largely shrouded in secrecy – is now also targeting U.S. citizens is bringing together concerned citizens across the political spectrum, including folks from the Tea Party and Occupy, to protest the government’s actions.

The worries about drone killing dovetail with bi-partisan concern over other abuses carried out by the government in the name of security, from indefinite detention (the infamous NDAA) to surveillance to solitary confinement to erosion of fair trial protections to torture.

A growing number of citizens are asking, “Who will protect us from politicians?

Urge the U.S. government to end unlawful drone killing.