It seems the Obama administration is looking for any possible argument to justify its policy of assassinating U.S. citizens without legal restraint. But that's not always easy to manage:
“The more forcefully the administration urges a court to stay out because this is warfare, the more it puts itself in the uncomfortable position of arguing we’re at war even in Yemen,”
The administration doesn't want any possibility of judicial review:
…they are seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed without discussing its merits. For example, officials say, the brief is virtually certain to argue that Mr. Awlaki’s father has no legal standing to file a lawsuit on behalf of his son.
Is the administration trying to figure out the law, and then follow it, or to simply push through whatever it wants to do?