Friday, October 7, 2011

Secret US panel OK's killing citizens

A number of top officials in the United States have confirmed the existence of a "secret panel" of senior government officials in the country that can order the assassination of American citizens with no judicial oversight.

According to the officials, the panel's recommendations first go through a group of National Security Council officials which consist of cabinet secretaries and intelligence chiefs for approval before reaching the US president who will then make a final decision on the extra-judicial killing, Reuters reported.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions made in the panel, as there is no law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate. The officials have also confirmed that the assassination of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen this month, was ordered by the secret panel.

However, White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor has declined to disclose information about the process and the role of US President Barack Obama in ordering or ratifying the decision made by the panel. Meanwhile, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul, criticizing Obama's decision, has suggested that the US could assassinate journalists the same way it targeted al-Awlaki.

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