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US can kill its own citizens without review when state secrets are involved, DOJ lawyer argues

Debra Cassens Weiss
ABA Journal
November 18, 2020

A U.S. Department of Justice lawyer argued Monday that the United States can kill its own citizens without judicial review when litigation would reveal state secrets.

The argument drew alarm among judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Courthouse News Service reports.


DOJ lawyer Bradley Hinshelwood acknowledged during the hearing that a strike against U.S. citizen is a serious undertaking. He said the courts have a role in deciding whether the state secrets privilege is appropriately applied, according to Courthouse News Service.

But Kareem’s lawyer, Tara Jordan Plochocki, argued that the federal government was seeking to expand sovereignty allowed under the state secrets privilege.

“Whether that’s in a parking lot in the United States or abroad in Syria, the government has claimed—for the first time ever in this case—that it has unfettered and unreviewable discretion to kill US citizens at will,” Plochocki said.

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