National Counterterrorism Center director Mike Leiter says the targeting and killing of U.S. citizens perceived as terror threats, such as renegade U.S.-born, al-Qaida linked cleric Anwar al Awlaki, are within this nation's rights to defend itself.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Leiter said al-Awlaki had a "direct operational role," in sending alleged Christmas Day bomber Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab to attack a Detroit-bound airliner. That role, Leiter said, makes him a legitimate target.
Leiter would not confirm whether Awlaki is on a U.S. target list, but a senior U.S. counterterrorism official has confirmed that the cleric has been placed on a list of targets to be captured or killed.
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