When Is it Okay to Kill Americans Abroad?

When Is it Okay to Kill Americans Abroad?

ON OCT. 14, a U.S. drone strike in southeastern Yemen took the lives of nine people, including Ibrahim al-Banna, a senior operative with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the intended target of the strike. Another casualty: Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American and the son of radical cleric and AQAP agent Anwar al-Awlaki. The elder Awlaki, also a U.S. citizen, was targeted and killed Sept. 30 in another attack.

An Obama administration official says the United States did not know that the teenage Awlaki was among the group traveling with Mr. Banna. But what if it had? Would the administration have changed course, had it known that a 16-year-old American was among those likely to be killed?

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