In response to a federal court order, the Obama administration has released a key Justice Department legal memo on U.S. targeted killing operations. The July 2010 memo was the basis for the government’s extrajudicial killing of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in 2011. In the memo, the government claims broad authority to kill American terrorism suspects without judicial process or geographic limitation.
The U.S. government earlier this year lost a freedom-of-information lawsuit filed by the New York Times and American Civil Liberties Union calling for the release of the memo, drafted by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. It provided the legal basis for the government’s killing of three Americans in Yemen in 2011: Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, and Samir Khan.
The Department of Justice decided against appealing the ruling amid pressure from congressional lawmakers, who were holding up the nomination of David Barron, the attorney who…
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