Adam Serwer has some good background on the case of Al-Qaeda-linked radical cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki who has reportedly been killed by US special ops in Yemen.
As Kevin Drum notes, this is the first US citizen assassinated abroad by the US government, and the second killed in the war on terror. The Bush administration killed Kamal Derwish in 2002 but took pains to at least claim he was not their target.
No one is likely to mourn al-Awlaki himself — which is what made his assassination so safe in the first place — but we sure ought be mourning the fact that it happened, and that it’s likely to happen routinely from now on. The Obama administration has demonstrated once again, as it did in Libya and as it’s done in a variety of surveillance cases, that its view of executive power in the arena of national security is hardly any less expansive than Dick Cheney’s was. The fact that this was predictable makes it no less alarming.