A media report says the Justice Department has written a confidential document on the legal justification for using deadly force against Americans suspected of playing significant roles in al-Qaida operations.
An unreleased Justice Department document says the U.S. government has the legal authority to target and kill American citizens believed to be playing significant operational roles in al-Qaida or related terrorist groups, according to an online report by NBC News.
The report said the 16-page document offers a detailed explanation of when it's appropriate to use deadly force against Americans, even if there is no definitive evidence they are involved in planning a specific attack against the U.S.
The document reportedly broadens the legal justification supporting a recent surge in pilotless drone strikes, including those targeting Americans. A drone strike killed U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan in Yemen in 2011.
In January, a federal judge ruled against The New York Times in its effort to compel the U.S. government to reveal information on how it determines which people with terrorist ties, including Americans, can be legally killed.
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