Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today issued the following statement on a Justice Department white paper entitled “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or An Associated Force” made public yesterday:
“I have been calling for the public release of the administration’s legal analysis on the use of lethal force—particularly against U.S. citizens—for more than a year. That analysis is now public and the American people can review and judge the legality of these operations. The administration has also described its legal analysis in speeches by the Attorney General and several senior officials during the past two years.
“The white paper itself was provided to the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees in June 2012 as a confidential document. The white paper (along with other documents and briefings) has allowed the Intelligence Committee to conduct appropriate and probing oversight into the use of lethal force. That oversight is ongoing, and the committee continues to seek the actual legal opinions by the Department of Justice that provide details not outlined in this particular white paper.
“While the analysis in the white paper is not specific to any one individual, there has been significant question over the death of a U.S. citizen and operational leader of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula named Anwar al-Aulaqi. As President Obama said at the time of his death, Aulaqi was the external operations leader for AQAP. He directed the failed attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009 and was responsible for additional attempts to blow up U.S. cargo planes in 2010. He was actively plotting and recruiting others to kill Americans until the time of his death in Yemen.”