Families of Drone Strike Victims in Yemen File Suit in Washington

This undated US Air Force photo shows an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft as it prepares for takeoff in support of operations in Southwest Asia. Iranian fighter jets fired on an unarmed US drone in the Gulf last week and missed, the Pentagon said November 8, 2012, warning that the United States stood ready to protect its forces in the region. "They intercepted the aircraft and fired multiple rounds," spokesman George Little told a news conference. The US military plane was "never in Iranian air space" and came under fire on November 1 from SU-25 fighters off the Iranian coast over international waters, he said. The MQ-1 Predator, a turboprop plane that flies at a much slower speed than the fighter jets, was pursued further by the Iranian warplanes but not fired on again. The Predator later returned safely to an unspecified military base in the region, Little said. The Predator was intercepted about 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast, beyond Iran's territorial waters that extend 12 nautical miles off the country's shore, he added.  = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT " AFP PHOTO / US AIRFORCE/JULIANNE SHOWALTER/" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS = JULIANNE SHOWALTER/AFP/Getty Images ** TCN OUT **
This undated US Air Force photo shows an MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft as it prepares for takeoff in support of operations in Southwest Asia. (AFP Photo/US Airforce/ Julianne Showalter/Getty Images)

Scott Shane, THE NEW YORK TIMES

WASHINGTON (The New York Times) — The families of an anti-Qaeda cleric and a police officer killed in an American drone strike in Yemen filed suit in federal court in Washington on Sunday night, asking the court to declare that the strike was unlawful.

The lawsuit, which seeks no monetary damages, is described by the complainants as an attempt to break through the secrecy surrounding drone strikes and to have the court impose some public accountability for mistakes made in the program.

It cites President Obama’s decision in April to publicly disclose that a separate American strike, on a Qaeda compound in Pakistan, had inadvertently killed two Western hostages, an American and an Italian.

The lawsuit notes that Mr. Obama said at the time that the hostages’ “families deserve to know the truth” and that the United States was willing “to confront squarely our imperfections and to learn from our mistakes.”

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