The Obama administration has lowered another legal barrier shielding Americans from extrajudicial punitive action by their own government, in this case authorizing the CIA to kill a US citizen suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda in Yemen and links to two attacks inside the United States last year.
Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric born in New Mexico but now living in Yemen, may be the first US citizen targeted for assassination by the CIA under a counter-terror policy established by President George W. Bush and since embraced by President Barack Obama.
Awlaki was previously viewed simply as an Islamic preacher espousing a radical religious viewpoint, but the reassessment of his status began last year when it was disclosed that Army Maj. Nidal Hassan had been communicating with Awlaki via e-mail before the Army psychiatrist allegedly shot and killed 12 soldiers and one civilian at Fort Hood in Texas last November.
A month later, on Christmas Day, a young Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines jetliner over Detroit, and US intelligence officials revealed that Abdulmutallab had been a student of Awlaki’s in Yemen. Though Awlaki denied ordering the attack, word began to spread that the CIA was adding Awlaki to a list of about two dozen people targeted for assassination.
Multiple press reports now indicate that Awlaki has been put on the death list, a move that the Obama administration justifies by claiming to have information that Awlaki has shifted from denouncing the United States to plotting violent acts against Americans.
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Obama Administration Authorizes CIA to Kill US Citizen
by Jason Leopold, April 7, 2010