(CN) – The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights on Monday tried to stop the federal government from the “targeted killing” of a U.S. citizen whom federal authorities believe inspired recent attacks in the United States.
The two groups filed their lawsuit in District Court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the father of Anwar Al-Aulaqi, whom federal officials believe inspired the shootings in Fort Hood, Texas, the car bombing in Times Square and an attempted bombing of an airplane on Christmas Day. Al-Aulaqi is believed to be hiding in Yemen.
“According to numerous published reports, the government maintains lists of suspects – ‘kill lists’ – against whom lethal force can be used without charge, trial or conviction,” according to the lawsuit.
“The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights. Outside the context of armed conflict, the intentional use of lethal force without prior judicial process is an abridgement of this right except in the narrowest and most extraordinary circumstances.”
The lawsuit continues: “The United States is not at war with Yemen, or within it. Nonetheless, government officials have disclosed the government’s intention to carry out the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqui, who is hiding there.”
The groups say the use of targeted killing is unconstitutional “except as a last resort to protect against concrete, specific and imminent threats of death or serious physical activity.”
The groups are also critical of the federal government’s alleged refusal “to disclose the standard by which it determines to target U.S. citizens for death.”
“U.S. citizens have a right to know what conduct may subject them to execution at the hands of their own government,” according to the complaint.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are President Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The groups want the court to declare the “targeted killings outside of armed conflict except as a last resort” to be unconstitutional and in violation of international law. They also want the government to disclose its guidelines for determining who it targets for death.
The lawsuit was filed by Arthur Spitzer with the ACLU and Pardiss Kebriaei with the Center for Constitutional Rights.