In the face of opposition, Mayor Libby Schaaf has withdrawn her proposed appointment of an ex-U.S. District Attorney as a police commission alternate. Brian Hauck, in a former position, defended the U.S. government’s killing by drone attack of two U.S. citizens accused not of violence but of “incendiary commentary.”
These extra-judicial drone killings have been condemned internationally. In the 2013 lawsuit against the federal government, the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights the family of the man and his teenaged son, who was killed in Yemen in 2011.
At last Thursday’s Rules Committee meeting, the Schaaf administration proposed that Hauck serve as an alternative commissioner on the Police Commission.
At the meeting, Schaaf’s Chief of Staff Elinor Buchen praised Hauck for his “years of experience in the Department of Justice…he brings a level of expertise on some of the more technical issues.”
Hauck said, “I do have experience in these issues and look forward to serving the community whatever way the city would find helpful.”
The resolution to appoint Hauck was placed on the consent calendar on this week’s City Council agenda, which meant that it was not considered controversial and would probably be approved with little or no discussion.
However, the proposal quickly unraveled after Hauck’s background was brought to the attention of City Councilmembers and the public by journalist Jaime Omar Yassin at “Oakland News at Hyphenated Republic” (https://hyphenatedrepublic.com).
City Council President Rebecca Kaplan took the item off the consent calendar, in a motion seconded by Noel Gallo, meaning that it would have to be debated in public. A number of public speakers spoke against the resolution. Finally, the Mayor’s Office pulled the resolution off the agenda.
“Before it was pulled by the Mayor’s staffer there was public comment including public criticism of the nomination,” Kaplan told the Oakland Post after the meeting.
“I was told about the issue by a local journalist,” she said. “I agree with many in the community who spoke on their concerns about the nomination, given the undisclosed prior role defending extra-judicial killings.”
The 2011 case received wide attention around the world, involving the extra-judicial killing of Anwar Al Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman Al Awlaki in a U.S. drone attack.
The family’s lawsuit argued that then- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and then-CIA Director David Petraeus, among others, were liable for having violated the constitutional rights the Al Awlakis.
Hauk represented the U.S. government in the hearing. According to a summary of the case by journalist Yassin, Hauck argued the U.S. could not be responsible for extra-judicial assassinations of citizens because it would “distract” those officials with the fear of litigation.
He also argued that though the two did have constitutional rights, “no court was capacitated to consider those rights’ – only the executive in consultation with Congress could decide on such matters.
Rashidah Grinage of the Coalition for Police Accountability told the Oakland Post as a former U.S. attorney, Hauck could respond that he had no choice but to make the case that he was assigned to make by his employer. However, she did question why he failed to disclose the issue to the mayor or the Police Commission, when he was interviewed by the selection committee
“This seems to reflect a lack of political awareness, especially about Oakland,” she said.