A group of human-rights lawyers filed a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging a federal regulation that restricts their ability to provide legal services to certain terrorism suspects. At the same time, they unveiled broader plans to contest the Obama administration’s decision to authorize the military and the C.I.A. to kill a United States citizen suspected of ties to Al Qaeda.
The lawyers asked a federal district court judge in Washington to strike down a Treasury Department rule requiring them to obtain a license before they can work on a lawsuit against the administration’s efforts to kill Anwar Al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico and is believed to be hiding in Yemen.
“The same government that is seeking to kill Anwar Al-Awlaki has prohibited attorneys from contesting the legality of the government’s decision to use lethal force against him,” says the complaint, which was jointly filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
A Treasury Department spokesman had no immediate comment on the lawsuit over its licensing requirement. But last month, when the department labeled Mr. Awlaki a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said Mr. Awlaki posed a threat to national security.