Secret Panel Placed Awlaki on Kill List
No records, no laws for National Security Council subset
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2011 9:09 AM CDT
This October 2008 file photo by Muhammad ud-Deen shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.   (AP Photo/Muhammad ud-Deen, File)

(Newser) – This is sure to ramp up the debate over whether the US was right to kill one of its own citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki: Reuters reports that a secretive panel places militants like him on a kill or capture list, and that there are no public records of the panel's operations and no laws establishing its existence or rules. The panel, a subset of the National Security Council, informs the president of its decisions; the president's exact role is unclear. Awlaki is believed to have been the only American placed on the list, according to officials.

President Obama is coming under fire from both the left and the right over Awlaki's killing, with some critics especially angry that Obama is using tactics similar to those he denounced in George W. Bush's administration. The officials who talked to Reuters say that Justice Department lawyers were consulted before Awlaki was made a target. The second American killed in the attack on Awlaki, Samir Khan, was considered collateral damage. Awlaki himself was targeted because he began to directly participate in al-Qaeda plots, although officials acknowledge that some intelligence on that matter was inconsistent.