Inside the Government's Real Death Panel

How Anwar al-Awlaki got on a kill or capture list

This article is from the archive of our partner .

A lot has been made about fake government "death panels" since President Obama took office. But Mark Hosenball at Reuters has reported one that actually exists: the secretive panel that decides if a U.S. citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki can be placed on the kill or capture list. According to Hosenball, it's a subset of the National Security Council and the process of deciding who's placed on it is "murkier" than has previously been reported:

[Officials] said targeting recommendations are drawn up by a committee of mid-level National Security Council and agency officials. Their recommendations are then sent to the panel of NSC "principals," meaning Cabinet secretaries and intelligence unit chiefs, for approval. The panel of principals could have different memberships when considering different operational issues, they said.

U.S. officials argue that Awlaki, who was born in the United States, made the list because because he crossed over from merely being an "inspirational" figure in Al Qaeda to serving an "operational" role. It's spooky stuff! The entire article on the legal justification for killing Awlaki and criticism of the administration from both left and right is well worth a read.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.