But whatever anyone thinks of those issues, it should offend every American that the Government purports to have the power to ban lawyers from representing citizens without its permission, which (as it’s doing here) it can withhold without explanation and in its sole discretion. Does any American want the Government to have that power with respect to citizens: to bar lawyers, under the threat of criminal prosecution, from representing them if the Government calls one a Terrorist? That’s the power the Obama administration is asserting and, in this case, actively wielding. A court will now decide if it has the legal authority to do that, and if the court decides it does not, the next step will be a lawsuit brought on behalf of Awlaki contesting Obama’s authority to order American citizens killed without any criminal charges or due process. The Obama administration should be very proud of itself.
UPDATE: Politico‘s Josh Gerstein reports that the administration has magnanimously deigned to grant permission to the ACLU and CCR to represent Awlaki’s father (and Awlaki’s interests). The primary effects of this decision are two-fold: it (1) moots the ACLU/CCR’s legal challenge to the administration’s licensing scheme, thus enabling them to avoid this legal challenge (and thus continue to wield this asserted power until someone else challenges its legality), and (2) ensures that the ACLU and CCR will now promptly file the lawsuit seeking to enjoin the administration from killing Awlaki without criminal charges or any other due process of any kind. Gerstein is a good reporter and his article on the administration’s response to this lawsuit is worth reading.