Relatives Sue Officials Over U.S. Citizens Killed in Yemen
WASHINGTON — Relatives of three American citizens killed in drone strikes in Yemen last year filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against four senior national security officials on Wednesday. The suit, in the Federal District Court here, opened a new chapter in the legal wrangling over the Obama administration’s use of drones in pursuit of terrorism suspects away from traditional “hot” battlefields like Afghanistan.
The first strike, on Sept. 30, killed a group of people including Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico, and Samir Khan, a naturalized American citizen who lived at times in Queens, Long Island, and North Carolina. The second, on Oct. 14, killed a group of people including Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was born in Colorado.
Accused in the suit of authorizing and directing the strikes are Leon E. Panetta, the secretary of defense; David H. Petraeus, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency; and two senior commanders of the military’s Special Operations forces, Adm. William H. McRaven of the Navy and Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Votel of the Army.
“The killings violated fundamental rights afforded to all U.S. citizens, including the right not to be deprived of life without due process of law,” the complaint says.