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Status Brief

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

 Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Savage, Charlie., Shane, Scott., “Memo Cites Legal Basis for Killing U.S. Citizens in Al Qaeda,” February 5, 2013, New York Times, US Last checked February 7, 2013.

  1. “Obama administration lawyers have asserted that it would be lawful to kill a United States citizen if “an informed, high-level official” of the government decided that the target was a ranking figure in Al Qaeda who posed “an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States” and if his capture was not feasible…”
  2. “The paper is not the classified memorandum in which the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel signed off on the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico and who died in an American drone strike in Yemen in September 2011.”
  3. “It does not discuss any specific target and emphasizes that it does not go into the specific thresholds of evidence that are deemed sufficient.”
  4. “It adopts an elastic definition of an “imminent” threat, saying it is not necessary for a specific attack to be in process when a target is found if the target is generally engaged in terrorist activities aimed at the United States.”
  5. “He asserted that the Constitution’s guarantee of “due process” before the government takes a life does not necessarily mean “judicial process” in national security situations, but offered little specific legal analysis.”
  6. “The senators wrote that they needed the legal opinions to judge “whether the president’s power to deliberately kill American citizens is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards.”

Law, Yemen, al-Qaeda


Palmer, Doug, “Iran escalating efforts to destabilize region – Panetta,” February 1, 2013. Reuters, last checked February 3, 2013.

  1. ”Yemeni forces intercepted a ship on January 23 carrying a large cache of weapons – including surface-to-air missiles – that U.S. officials suspect were being smuggled from Iran and destined for Yemeni insurgents.”
  2. ”Yemen’s government said the arms intercepted aboard the ship off the country’s coast also included military-grade explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and bomb-making equipment.”
  3. ”Panetta said the United States was stepping up efforts to counter the Iranian threat, and was leading a multinational exercise in the United Arab Emirates through Thursday to improve the interdiction of Iranian arms and other weapons.”
  4. ”U.S. officials have said the anti-aircraft weapons intercepted on January 23 likely were headed to northern Yemen’s Houthi separatists, who are fighting the U.S.-backed government in Sanaa and have also clashed with Saudi forces.”

PSI, Export Control, Iran, Military, Yemen, Saudi Arabia


Editors, “Ex-FBI agent pleads guilty in national security leak,” BBC News, 9/23/13., last checked 9/24/13

  1. “‘This unauthorized and unjustifiable disclosure severely jeopardized national security and put lives at risk.’ Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a statement.”
  2. ””To keep the country safe, the department must enforce the law against such critical and dangerous leaks, while respecting the important role of the press.’”
  3. ”In May 2012, the Associated Press published an article describing a successful effort to disrupt a plot by Yemen-based al-Qaeda militants to bomb a US-bound airliner.”
  4. ” Sachtleben worked for the FBI as a bomb technician from 1983-2008 and held top secret security clearance.”
  5. “On Monday, Sachtleben pleaded guilty to unauthorised disclosure of national defence information, unauthorised possession and retention of national defence information, and two charges of distributing and possessing child pornography.”
  6. ”The plea agreement calls for him to be sentenced to a total of 140 months in prison – 43 for the national security offenses and 97 for the child pornography charges.”

Information Policy, Law Enforcement, Classified, al-Qaeda, Yemen