The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on Aug. 4 announced that they will pursue a legal challenge to the Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) program, after being issued a license to represent Anwar al-Awlaqi, a US citizen who is suspected of being a member of al Qaeda in Yemen and was labeled a SDGT last month. Despite receiving the license, the rights groups will continue to challenge the licensing program.
The SDGT designation is issued by the Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under federal law, freezing the assets of the individual and preventing the provision of legal services without a license from the government. The suit would also challenge the government’s asserted authority to use lethal force against al-Awlaqi without charge, trial, or judicial process of any kind. The rights groups were retained by al-Awlaqi’s father in June to provide pro bono legal assistance in challenging this effort. The groups allege that the legal assistance ban issued by the Treasury Department exceeds its statutory authority and violates the First and Fifth amendments. (Jurist, Aug. 5; CCR, Aug. 3)