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US government argues drone strikes are above the law

Court cases are often cures for insomnia, but every so often a lawsuit is an eye-opening journey through the looking glass. One of those is suddenly upon us -- and we should be thankful because it finally provides an unfiltered look at our government.

You may not know about this case, but you should. Called Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, it illustrates the extremism driving the policies being made in the public's name.

The first thing you should know about this case is that it is simply about a man who wants to know why his grandson is dead. That's right -- in this age of endless war, a grandfather named Nasser Al-Aulaqi is having to go to court to try to compel the U.S. government to explain why it killed his grandson in a drone strike despite never charging the 16-year-old American citizen with a crime.

Another thing you should know is the specific defense the government is mounting in this case. As the New York Times reported, the Obama administration's Deputy Attorney General Brian Hauck first declared that courts have no right to oversee executive-branch decisions to extrajudicially assassinate Americans. He also insisted that the White House already provides adequate due process for those it kills, prompting federal judge Rosemary Collyer to point out that "the executive is not an effective check on the executive." The fact that the judge needed to issue such a reminder speaks volumes about an administration utterly unconcerned with constitutional governance.

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