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A Just Act of War

By Jack L. Goldsmith, a former assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration who teaches at Harvard Law School, serves on the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law and is the author of The Terror Presidency (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 01/10/11): On Friday, an American drone flying over northern Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — a Qaeda affiliate. Mr. Awlaki helped support an attempted attack on a Detroit-bound flight in 2009 and had been linked to other attempted attacks in the United States. Drone strikes against terrorists outside of so-called hot battlefields like Afghanistan have become commonplace during the Obama presidency, and have reportedly decimated the leadership of Al Qaeda and its affiliates. What made this strike unusual, however, was that Mr. Awlaki was an American citizen, having been born in New Mexico. This fateful new step in our ever-expanding war against terrorists — intentionally killing an American citizen — is...
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