Justice Department memo justifying drone strike on American citizen released

By Kyle Johnson,

On Monday, a Justice Department memo that justified the drone killing of an American citizen known to be an al-Qaeda member was released.

The memo was written in 2010 by David Barron, who was the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel chief at the time, which argued that a drone strike would be necessary to take out Anwar al-Awlaki, which the United States did in 2011, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"At least where, as here, the target's activities post a 'continued and imminent threat of violence or death' to U.S. persons, 'the highest officers in the Intelligence Community have reviewed the factual basis' for the lethal operation, and a capture operation would be infeasible," leaving little choice other than a drone strike.

The memo's existence has been known about for awhile, but it wasn't released until today as the Obama administration didn't want it published, but a federal appeals court felt otherwise.

According to USA Today, the ACLU and The New York Times sued under the Freedom of Information Act to get the document publicly released. ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer applauded the win, noting it "represents an overdue but nonetheless crucial step towards transparency.

"There are few questions more important than the question of when the government has the authority to kill its own citizens," Jaffer said. Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico.

image courtesy of INFphoto.com

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