Organizations including the ACLU and the New York Times have for some months been engaged in lawsuits to gain information from the government about the legal reasoning behind the targeted killing of U.S. citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son in a 2011 drone strike. A federal judge told the Times that the Obama administration does not, under law, have to provide legal justification for its targeted kills.
However, a confidential Justice Department memo obtained by NBC News sheds some light on the legal reasoning for including U.S. citizens on Obama’s controversial kill lists. According to the ACLU’s Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, “It’s a pretty remarkable document.”
NBC’s Michael Isikoff, who obtained the white paper from an unnamed source, wrote that it “concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be ‘senior operational leaders’ of al-Qaida or ‘an associated force’ — even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.” Read More