Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. is expected Monday to provide the most detailed explanation yet of the Obama administration’s secret decision-making leading up to the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen last year in Yemen.
Holder’s speech Monday afternoon at Northwestern Law School in Chicago is the result of months of internal Obama administration deliberations over how much can be made public about the decisions leading up to the strike.
The Justice Department wrote a still-classified memo that provided the legal rationale for the targeting of American-born Anwar al-Awlaki that also included intelligence material about his operational role within al-Qaeda’s affiliates in Yemen.
Holder is expected to say that the killing of Awlaki was legal under the 2001 congressional authorization of the use of military force and that the United States, acting in self-defense, is not limited to traditional battlefields in pursuit of terrorists who present an imminent threat, including U.S. citizens, according to an official briefed on the speech. The official would only discuss the address on the condition of anonymity because it will not be released until shortly before Holder speaks.
Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, was the chief of external operations for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, which has attempted a number of terrorist attacks on the United States, according to administration officials. He had been placed on “kill lists” compiled by the CIA and and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Awlaki was killed in September in Yemen in a joint CIA-JSOC drone operation.
The Awlaki operation was carried out after the administration requested and received an opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel saying that targeting and killing U.S. citizens overseas was legal under domestic and international law.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com …
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