Two left-wing groups are suing the government for the right to defend Anwar al-Awlaki, the Muslim cleric who the government says ordered the foiled Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner. Awlaki also exchanged emails with Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. On Wednesday, legal reporter Charlie Savage reported "Lawyers Seeking to Take Up Terror Suspect's Legal Case Sue U.S. for Access."
Savage skipped the Hasan emails and committed the Times' usual sins against labeling balance, calling the liberal ACLU and the far-left Center for Constitutional Rights "a group of human rights lawyers." That description is particularly unfitting. given the groups are acting on behalf of a man with evidently no regard for "human rights" or human life: Anwar al-Awlaki.
A group of human rights lawyers want to stop the Obama administration from authorizing the military and the C.I.A. to kill the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen believed to be hiding in Yemen.
But the group has found itself in a Catch-22-like bind: because the government has designated Mr. Awlaki a terrorist, it would be a crime for the lawyers to file a lawsuit challenging the government's attempts to kill him.
On Tuesday, the lawyers waded into that thicket. After they filed a lawsuit challenging a Treasury Department regulation that requires them to obtain permission to provide uncompensated legal services benefiting Mr. Awlaki, who has been accused of terrorism ties but has received no trial, the government suggested it was inclined to approve their application for a license. It had been pending for 11 days.
"The same government that is seeking to kill Anwar al-Awlaki has prohibited attorneys from contesting the legality of the government's decision to use lethal force against him," says the complaint, filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Savage has an aversion to labeling the CCR as the far-left organization it is. Times Watch has previously documented that CCR president Michael Ratner said in a December 2005 press release (during the Bush administration): "Every American should be in political rebellion against the criminals now running this country." Ratner has also written an admiring book on the murderous Che Guevara - not exactly a human rights icon.