White paper explains justification for killing US citizens

Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Al-Qaeda operative, was killed by a drone strike in 2011.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Al Qaeda operative, was killed by a drone strike in 2011.

Yesterday, NBC news released a white paper composed by White House lawyers explaining why it is okay to kill US citizens connected to Al Qaeda in foreign countries. You can read the full memo here, where you are at zero risk of forgetting who broke the story. According to the Times, this white paper describes another, more specific brief that I can only assume is even more tedious. The occasion for all this airtight legal reasoning rationalizing was the 2011 killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, a US citizen and general douchebag in Yemen, in a drone strike that also incinerated his 16 year-old son. Apparently they were guilty.

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Not cool, United States government

Anwar al-Awlaki, alleged terrorist and certain dick/corpse

On Friday, the CIA successfully executed a drone attack against Anwar  Al-Awlaki, killing him and fellow Al Qaeda operative Samir Khan as they rode through Yemen in a car. Khan was the editor of Al Qaeda’s weird English-language magazine Inspire, which is like US Weekly if US Weekly were entirely about murdering people. “Make a Bomb In the Kitchen of Your Mom” was the headline of one recent Inspire feature. Awlaki is a radical preacher whose anti-American rhetoric was believed to inspire numerous acts of terrorism. Both men are American citizens. Awlaki was born in New Mexico, and Khan—raised in Queens and North Carolina—is of Pakistani origin. If you believe that Elvis was an accident, the two men are now the first American citizens to have been assassinated by the CIA. Khan appears to have been a bonus, but President Obama put Awlaki on a kill list at the beginning of last year.

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Not cool: Obama authorizes assassination of American citizen

Barack Obama, seconds before slowly rotating his hand downward

I think I speak for all of us when I say goddammit, dude. An unnamed “US official” has confirmed that Anwar Al-Awlaki, alleged terrorist and certain dickhead, is on the list of people whom the CIA is allowed to kill. If, like me, you have become momentarily distracted by the thought of how awesome and creepy such a list is—hey, CIA operatives, if you’re having a panini or whatever and you happen to see Mohammad Jamal Khalifa, go ahead and stab him in the face—allow me to bring you back to sobriety by pointing out that Al-Awlaki is an American citizen. He’s also believed to occupy a significant leadership position in Al Qaeda, a probably true fact that I learned from reading an article in the Washington Post. At the time, that same article said that Al-Awlaki was “thought to have been killed”—an assessment that, coming as it did from the same military and civilian intelligence sources that decided he was a high-ranking Al Qaeda officer in the first place, casts a little doubt on the “Anwar Al-Awlaki is a terrorist so it’s okay if we whack him” argument. God forbid he’s just an asshole, because he’s an American asshole, and we have rules.

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