Targeted Killing

AG Holder Letter on Targeting

By Matthew Waxman
Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 4:33 PM

Yesterday, Bobby and I wrote this post about what the President could say in his speech tomorrow on counterterrorism, and we highlighted as one important element the President's repeated pledges of greater transparency on targeting.

As another move in that direction, Attorney General Holder today sent this letter to Senator Leahy.  Among other things, it declassifies the fact of the al Awlaki strike and some details about it, as well as the standards the government uses in U.S. citizen-targeting cases.  It also previews a document institutionalizing the "standards and processes for reviewing and approving operations to capture or use lethal force against terrorist targets outside the United States and areas of active hostilities," including some of the substantive standards that govern when and how such operations are conducted.