Before delving into the details of this story headlined above, I think its important to mention the fine job that the New York Times does each and every day. While I’m sure my appeal will come to nothing, consider a subscription to this eminent publication. Sure you can read online, this is certainly evident given that you are reading this. There is, however, something special about physically reading a paper. No matter your feelings on the political leanings of the NYT, its presence allows for government officials and others to leak information to the public and know that it will be covered and covered responsibly. This piece would not have been possible without someone approaching the New York Times.

Drone

For the first time since Eric Holder’s speech at Northwestern University last year where the Attorney General laid out the Obama Administration’s belief that Americans operating as terrorists and those whose capture would not be possible would be targeted by the U.S military, the United States has acknowledged that it has killed four Americans in drone strikes. In his speech, Holder said that Americans who posed an “imminent threat of violent attack” would be killed. Well, he wasn’t lying.

This acknowledgment came in the form of a letter Mr. Holder wrote to Congress. A letter that wa subsequently obtained by the New York Times on the eve of an expected Obama address on national security issues.

The letter disclosed the fact that the administration had deliberately killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was killed in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen. While this fact has been widely reported, the Obama administration had neither confirmed nor denied this until today.

In addition to Anwar al-Awlaki, American Samir Khan was killed in the same airstrike. Anwar al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki,  was killed in a separate strike in Yemen. The letter also stated that American Jude Mohammed was killed in a strike in Pakistan.

“These individuals were not specifically targeted by the United States,” Mr. Holder wrote.

The letter doesn’t suggest that the United States feels bad about the additional deaths , just that they were collateral damage in other attacks.

Mr. Holder also makes clear the reason for the attack on Anwar al-Awlaki. The letter states that Anwar al-Awlaki was not targeted for his rhetoric but his active role in plotting terror attacks.

“Moreover, information that remains classified to protect sensitive sources and methods evidences Awlaki’s involvement in the planning of numerous other plots against U.S. and Western interests and makes clear he was continuing to plot attacks when he was killed,” Mr. Holder wrote.

He added, “The decision to target Anwar al-Awlaki was lawful, it was considered, and it was just.”