WASHINGTON — The U.S. government under Barack Obama was forced to release a redacted version of an internal memo justifying the drone strikes that killed an American citizen. The move was forced on the government after a federal appeals court ruled in favor of releasing the memo.
Reuters reported that the 2011 drone strikes killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who became an Islamist preacher with ties to the terrorist organization al-Qaeda. He was killed in Yemen by a U.S. drone.
Parts of the memo justified the killing because he was a leader of the enemy force of al-Qaeda and said it was legal to do so. It also said that the drone strikes were authorized by Congress after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The memo’s release was a result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and The New York Times.
Awlaki was killed on September 30, 2011, and Reuters also noted another American, Samir Khan, was killed in the same attack albeit unintentionally. It was one of the first times, if not the first time, that an American citizen was killed without due process under law in the War on Terror.