Alleged al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki, killed last month in an American drone attack in Yemen, was placed on a kill and capture list managed by a secretive panel of senior U.S. government officials. What the president knows of the panel’s operations and his role in its decision-making process are being kept hidden.

Reports of the president’s part in the selection and pursuit of targets differ. Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the president ratifies all decisions. Others said Obama was not required to personally OK the targeting of al-Awlaki.

What would be the reason for keeping the president in the dark about these decisions? To “protect” him, an official said.

No public record of the panel’s decisions or operations are kept. Nor is there any explicit legal justification for the committee’s existence or rules for its actions. So much for the protection of whomever it deems worthy of death. –ARK


There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

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