The New York Times is out with details on a secret Obama administration memo used to authorise the killing of U.S.-citizen and leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Anwar al-Awlaki.Awlaki was killed last month in Yemen by a missile fired from a U.S. drone.
Drafted last year, once Awlaki was already on the government’s “kill-or-capture list,” the document examined the constitutional and legal arguments for and against killing Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico.
He was implicated in the failed Christmas Day airline bombing plot, as well as an inspiration for the Fort Hood shooter, part of a series of complicit activities the government used to argue he was a “co-belligerent” with al-Qaeda, and thus a legitimate target.
Awlaki’s rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments were determined not to be an issue, given Awlaki’s intent to kill Americans at every opportunity afforded to him.
Another justification given was that it would be unfeasible to capture Awlaki, who had repeatedly escaped capture in Yemen. The Obama administration has maintained that it would prefer to capture, rather than kill, terrorists like Awlaki.
According to the Times, the memo is specifically limited to Awlaki, and is not reflective of a broader administration doctrine to handle similar cases.
The leaked memo is undoubtedly going to draw concerns from civil libertarians, with the ACLU unsuccessfully filing suit to prevent Awlaki’s placement on the kill or capture list last year.