US defends killing Americans who join al-Qaida

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March 5, 2012 23:48

 
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CHICAGO - The Obama administration on Monday asserted a right to kill Americans overseas who are plotting attacks against the United States, laying out specific details for the first time about a policy that critics argue violates US and international law.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said that Americans who have joined al-Qaida or its affiliates can be targeted for lethal strikes if there is an imminent threat to the United States and capturing them is not feasible.

In prepared remarks to the Northwestern University School of Law, Holder did not refer directly to the CIA drone strike last year that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Muslim cleric who joined al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate and directed many attacks.

"Any decision to use lethal force against a United States citizen - even one intent on murdering Americans and who has become an operational leader of al-Qaida in a foreign land - is among the gravest that government leaders can face," Holder said in the prepared remarks provided in advance.

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