The Government's Secret "Kill List"

Posted by - Friday, October 7th, 2011

Last month, in a drone strike in Yemen conducted by the CIA, American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed.

And according to both current and former officials, a secret panel within the National Security Council made the decision for the killing.

This panel has the capability of adding militants to a capture or a kill list, though there are no records of operation or laws surrounding the panel’s actions. 

The officials who gave statements, choosing to remain anonymous, said that to their knowledge Awlaki has been the only American targeted by the panel.

It isn’t clear how much involvement the President has in these decisions. Though some officials say action can be taken without his approval, one told Reuters that the president is informed of panel decisions and can veto them if necessary. 

Regardless, much criticism has arisen against President Obama as a result of this news. As Reuters reports, liberals are accusing him of overstepping executive boundaries while conservatives are upset he will not release justification from the Justice Department.

The main public issue, the article reports, is that Barack Obama’s campaign countered George Bush’s “expansive use of executive power.” 

Now, it appears, President Obama is doing just that.

The process of decision-making has not been clearly laid out for the public, fueling the criticism. 

House Intelligence Committee Representative Dutch Ruppersberger gave some vague details to Reuters.

“[The process consists of] going through the National Security Council, then eventually it goes to the president, but the National Security Council does the investigation, they have lawyers, they review, they look at the situation, you have input from the military, and also, we make sure that we follow international law.”

But none of the evidence against Awlaki leading to his placement on the kill list has been revealed to the public, another problem upsetting many Americans.

Officials have explained several situations in which Awlaki has been discovered plotting in terrorist attacks, and they assure citizens that he had gone beyond just talking about al Qaeda and into planning with them.

As Daniel Benjamin, a counterterrorism official, said to Reuters:

“Let me underscore, Awlaki is no mere messenger but someone integrally involved in lethal terrorist activities.”

And yet official still refuse to release any concrete evidence used against him.

The video below shows an address with White House spokesman Jay Carney and the administration’s refusal to release evidence.


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