A day before President Obama is to give a speech outlining the justifications used in targeted drone strikes, the New York Times has received a copy of a Justice Department white paper acknowledging the deaths of four Americans in drone strikes. The letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to congressmen including Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is the first acknowledgment by the government of strikes against Americans, including Anwar Al-Awlaki, “outside of areas of active hostilities.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.
In February, NBC News received a copy of a 16-page memo from the DOJ outlining the legal justification for the targeted killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of Al-Qaeda or “an associated force.”
For analysis on the controversial CIA drone program and Obama’s speech, see my article from earlier today: “National Defense University Speech: Obama to Reveal Information On Secret Drone Program.”