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A Justice Department Memo Provides The CIA's Legal Justification To Kill A US Citizen | VICE News

FILE - In this June 13, 2010, file photo a U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar
FILE - In this June 13, 2010, file photo a U.S. Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan. Hunting al-Qaida targets from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Yemen to Somalia, the fleet of U.S. armed Predator and Reaper drones that killed two American members of al-Qaida in Yemen Friday, Sept. 30, 2011, are the night stalkers of the expanded U.S. war on terrorists. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini, Pool, File)

"This white paper sets forth the legal basis upon which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) could use lethal force in Yemen against a United States citizen who senior officials reasonably determined was a senior leader of al-Qaida or an associated force of al-Qaida."

So begins a 22-page, heavily redacted, previously top-secret document titled "Legality of a Lethal Operation by the Central Intelligence Agency Against a US Citizen," which provides the first detailed look at the legal rationale behind lethal operations conducted by the agency. The white paper [pdf below] was turned over to VICE News in response to a long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department.

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