National Security

Journalists sue Trump over ‘kill list’ designations: report

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Two journalists are suing President Trump and other top U.S. officials, claiming that they are on the government’s “kill list” of individuals targeted for drone strikes, Politico reported Thursday.

The journalists, former Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief Ahmad Zaidan and freelance journalist Bilal Kareem, say in the lawsuit that they were placed on the “kill list” by the Obama administration, a decision maintained by the Trump White House.

Kareem claims he has nearly died in five separate airstrikes over the year, while Zaidan, who has reported extensively on al Qaeda and interviewed the terrorist group’s now-deceased leader, Osama bin Laden, multiple times, says he is on the “kill list” because he was improperly designated as a member of the group, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood.

{mosads}The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday and lists Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions among the defendants, as well as several other high-ranking officials.

Both Zaidan, a Pakistani and Syrian citizen, and Kareem, a U.S. citizen, deny having any affiliation with terrorist groups and say that their designations on the “kill list” are the results of “algorithms” used to identify terrorists.

But those algorithms are flawed, they argue, and the designations are based on their travel, social media content and communications related to their professions.

“Plaintiffs’ inclusion on the Kill List is the result of arbitrary and capricious agency action, accomplished without due process, and in violation of the United States Constitution and U.S. and international law,” the lawsuit reads. 

The U.S. drastically expanded its use of unmanned aerial drones under the Obama administration, much to the chagrin of human rights advocates and lawyers, who argue that their deadly strikes violate due process rights.

Shortly after taking office in January, Trump gave the CIA authority to launch drone strikes. Previously, the CIA could use drones to locate suspected terrorists, but the strikes themselves had to be carried out by the military, which is required to report most airstrikes. 

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