The worst news you could possibly hear:
We brought the case on behalf of Nasser Al-Aulaqi, whose U.S. citizen son, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, has been put on a secret hit list by the government. In a decision issued today, the judge emphasized that the case raises critically important questions, including whether “the Executive [can] order the assassination of a U.S. citizen without first affording him any form of judicial process whatsoever, based on the mere assertion that he is a dangerous member of a terrorist organization.” The court nevertheless dismissed the case on the basis of “standing” — ruling that our client does not have the right to represent the interests of his son — and on the grounds that the case raises “political questions” that are not subject to judicial review. He did not rule on the merits of the case.
Oh well, now we need never face those Important Questions.
A central premise of the case is that in our constitutional system of checks and balances, courts have a critical oversight role to play when the executive branch claims the authority — as both the Bush and Obama administrations have done — to kill people far from any battlefield, based on secret criteria. In rejecting that premise, the court has effectively granted the president the unreviewable authority to order the targeted killing of any American, anywhere, based on a unilateral determination that the person is a threat.
Isn’t it a shame when you finally reach the point where it Needs to be Said, but it’s been said so often now it’s become Clichéd? The Terrorists Have Won.