White House officials said Friday night that a Justice Department memo had authorized the killing of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen—and there was reportedly no dissent about the legality of killing a U.S. citizen. “What constitutes due process in this case is a due process in war,” one official told The Washington Post. The document was produced after legal questions were raised about the killing of a U.S. citizen, who is afforded constitutional protections. The operation that killed Awlaki and Samir Khan, another U.S. citizen, involved CIA and military assets under CIA control—and a former intelligence official said the CIA would not kill a U.S. citizen without a written opinion. For its part, the White House has begun referring to Awlaki as al Qaeda’s “external operations” chief—possibly to emphasize Awlaki’s threat to Americans.
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