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US seeks to dismiss suit filed for radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

The Obama administration has invoked the state secrets privilege to block a lawsuit on behalf of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged terrorist said to be targeted for assassination.

This still image from video obtained on May 22, 2010 courtesy of the SITE Intelligence Group shows Anwar al-Awlaki from the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The radical Yemeni-American cleric is accused of providing spiritual guidance to suspected Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan, and the Christmas Day airplane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.


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The Obama administration on Saturday invoked the state secrets privilege which would kill a lawsuit on behalf of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged terrorist said to be targeted for assassination under a US government program.

In a court filing, the Justice Department said that the issues in the case are for the executive branch of government to decide rather than the courts.

The department also said the case entails information that is protected by the military and state secrets privilege.

The courts have sufficient grounds to throw out the lawsuit without resorting to use of the state secrets privilege, the Justice Department said in its filing.

"The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy," the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement. "In matters of life and death, no executive should have a blank check."

Al-Awlaki's father, through the CCR and the ACLU, filed the case in federal court in Washington.

The father has demanded that the government disclose a wide variety of classified information which could harm U.S. national security, Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.


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