Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Court releases memo of US justifying drone killings of Americans abroad

© Press TV
Press TV | Jun 23, 2014

The US government outlined its legal justification for using CIA drones to assassinate Americans abroad by citing the so-called war on terror, according to a confidential memorandum released by a federal appeals court on Monday.

The previously secret legal opinion was written by David Barron, former Justice Department attorney and Harvard Law professor, who was recently confirmed as a judge in the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

The memo justified the 2011 killings in Yemen of US-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and naturalized US citizen Samir Khan.

A CIA drone strike killed al-Awlaki and Khan in Yemen in September 2011. In October 2011, another drone attack left al-Awlaki's son and six other people dead.

The memo says that since the Obama administration considered al-Awlaki to be an "operational leader" of an "enemy force," it was legal for the Central Intelligence Agency to eliminate him even though he was an American.

The memo says the killing was further justified under a law passed by Congress soon after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan released the memo, portions of which were blacked out, in response to Freedom of Information lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times.

"High-level government officials have concluded, on the basis of al-Awlaki's activities in Yemen, that al-Awlaki is a leader of (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) whose activities in Yemen pose a 'continued an imminent threat' of violence to United States persons and interests," the document said.

The US military has used the unmanned aircraft in several Muslim countries, including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Washington claims that its airstrikes target militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks. The United Nations has called the US drone attacks “targeted killings that flout international law.”


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