WASHINGTON D.C. – American born citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which is run by President Obama.
There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.
Obama and the small panel was behind the decision to assassinate Awlaki, a U.S.-born Islamic militant imam with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the kill list. He was assassinated by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.
The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is not disclosed publicly. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to discuss anything about the process.
Current and former officials said that to the best of their knowledge, Awlaki, who the White House claimed was a key figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate, had been the only American put on a government list targeting people for capture or death due to their alleged involvement with militants.
The White House is portraying the killing of Awlaki as a demonstration of President Barack Obama’s toughness toward militants who threaten the United States. But the process that led to Awlaki’s killing has drawn fierce criticism from both the political left and right.
In an ironic turn, Obama, who ran for president denouncing predecessor George W. Bush’s expansive use of executive power in his “war on terrorism,” is being attacked in some quarters for using similar tactics. They include secret legal justifications and undisclosed intelligence assessments, plus killing of a United States citizen without a trial, or conviction.
Liberals and many European leaders criticized the drone attack on an American citizen as extra-judicial murder without due process on it own citizens.
Conservatives criticized Obama for refusing to release a Justice Department legal opinion that reportedly justified killing Awlaki. They accuse Obama of hypocrisy, noting his administration insisted on publishing Bush-era administration legal memos justifying the use of interrogation techniques many equate with torture, but refused to make public its rationale for killing a citizen without due process.
Because Obama refused to released any details about Awlaki, how are American to know if they can be added to this kill list at anytime? Who is to stop the president from adding anyone to the target list, if there is no accountability? This sets a bad precedence where government has the right to assassinate any of it’s citizens it feels it needs to, in the “best interest” of the country. This clearly provides too much power and authority to a president, any person or citizen that may disagree with a president or their political party could somehow end up on their kill list, and branded a terrorist. There is already concern Obama branded many tea party activist terrorist, could they be next on his list?
Officials confirmed that a second American citizen, Samir Khan, was killed in the drone attack as well last month, two Americans killed without a trial, no jury, no courtroom, simply a quick assassination!
Executive Order l2333 – 2.11 Prohibition on Assassination- 2.11 Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.
Executive Order l2333 – United States Intelligence Activities-