Washington: US administration had in a secret
memo authorised targeting of the radical cleric and prominent
al-Qaeda`s Arab Peninsula arm leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who fell
to a drone strike in Yemen.
The killing of Awlaki, a US citizen was authorised by the
US justice department in a written opinion, Washington Post
reported quoting a former senior intelligence officer.
The officer told the paper that CIA would not have killed
the dreaded al-Qaeda leader without authorisation, which
placed the cleric on the agency`s "kill or capture list".
The memo, the Post said, was circulated after senior
lawyer from Obama administration reviewed the legal concerns
about targeting the US nationals, at home or abroad.
"What constitutes due process in this case is a due
process in war," said one of the officials, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity to discuss closely held deliberations
within the administration.
The administration has faced a legal challenge and public
criticism for targeting Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico,
because of constitutional protections afforded US citizens.
The memorandum may represent an attempt to resolve, at
least internally, a legal debate over whether a president can
order the killing of US citizens overseas as a
A second American killed in yesterday`s attack was Samir
Khan, a driving force behind Inspire, the English-language
magazine produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. An
administration official said the CIA did not know Khan was
with Awlaki, but they also considered Khan a belligerent whose
presence near the target would not have stopped the attack.
Last year, the Obama administration invoked the state
secrets privilege to argue successfully for the dismissal of a
lawsuit brought in US District Court in Washington by Awlaki`s
father, Nasser, seeking to block the targeting of his son.
Judge John Bates found that in Awlaki`s case, targeting
was a "political question" to be decided by the executive
The decision to place Awlaki on a capture or kill list was
made in early 2010, after intelligence officials concluded
that he played a direct role in the plot to blow up a jet over
Detroit and had become an operational figure within al-Qaeda`s
affiliate in Yemen.
The Post said the CIA reviews every six months to ensure
that those targeted for possible killing remained threats as
defined by law and presidential findings.