At a hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington, (click here) Judge Rosemary Collyer said she would rule as soon as she could, at least on the preliminary question of whether citizens or their family members have a right to bring a lawsuit.
The families of three of those killed, including New Mexico-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, are suing over their deaths. They argue the killings were illegal.
In a courtroom so full that people stood in the back, Collyer openly struggled with what role U.S. courts should have in overseeing the highly secretive targeted-killing program run by President Barack Obama and his senior staff.
She reacted skeptically to U.S. Justice Department lawyer Brian Hauck, who urged Collyer to leave the program's work to the military and the White House. "The executive is not an effective check on the executive when it comes to a person's constitutional rights," Collyer said.
To civil liberties lawyers who argued the killings took place away from active hostilities, Collyer said that the United States is at war against a diffuse group of militants without a clearly defined battleground.
"There is no doubt that al Qaeda attacked the United States in 2001, and that the organization has called for continued attacks against U.S. interests around the world," she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights, both based in New York, represent the families.
Hina Shamsi and Pardiss Kebriaei, lawyers for the groups respectively, said that in killing the Americans the government violated fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution to due process and to be free from unreasonable seizure.
The lawyers also said that for those rights to be meaningful for U.S. citizens, the families of those killed must be able to assert those rights in a courtroom.
Collyer countered that the lawsuit was highly unusual, and she wondered what documents the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights might demand from the government if she allowed the lawsuit to move forward....
The other side of the coin are the families that fell victim to the violence at Fort Hood. Do they get to sue Hassan and Anwar al-Awlaki for their losses, too? And do they get to sue the USA government for not preventing the access by Hasan to al-Awlaki. If the USA government/military had the capacity to prevent contact between Hasan and al-Awlaki, do the families of the soldiers lost have the right to sue for the negligence of the USA to prevent the radicalization as well?
By: Rex Castillo
Both sides (click here) in the court martial of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan began to reveal their strategies in a Thursday pretrial hearing.
Hasan's inexperience showed in court as he deferred to Col. Kris Poppe, a member of his support counsel. Poppe wanted the prosecution to provide a written summary of their witness' testimony so that Hasan can review the statements and properly prepare.
The prosecution's Col. Mike Mullighan said this is not a requirement and said the defense is just "chasing ghosts,” in effect saying the request was another delay tactic by the defense to push back the trial.
Mullighan assured presiding judge Col. Tara Osborn the prosecution's witnesses will only speak about their loss of a family member in the shooting.
Col. Poppe said the written summaries are essential because Hasan clearly has less experience than his opponents....
The catch 22 to all this is the fact nothing prevented the elder Boston Bomber from visiting areas where radicalized young men existed and that would have also been the case with Hasan. However, the travels were known. The potential danger could have been assigned to their return for investigation further. AND could the radicalization have happened in the period of time they visited? I think not. I believe the internet played a huge roll in the radicalization of all involved.