Necessary Evil?

Report: How America Legally Killed a U.S. Citizen

A new report by The New York Times sheds light on the two-year manhunt and ultimate assassination of U.S. citizen and registered al Qaeda terrorist, Anwar al-Awlaki. The report is a compilation of vigorous interviews with dozens of individuals involved in the plot including intelligence directors, counter-terrorism experts, and government officials. According to the findings, Awlaki was one of the "most hunted terrorists in history"—under the CIA's radar for at least a decade. The decision to “eliminate” him without a trial dates back to 2009, after he attempted to blow up an airliner in Detroit. It was that incident—and several others— that led Justice Department lawyers to conclude that killing him without a trial was justified. The controversial move to kill him was further muddied when the drone aimed for Awlaki also took the life of another U.S citizen, Samir Khan (not on the kill list). Sources close to the incident insist the killing was justified, but questions surrounding the moral ambiguity of the strike linger.