The Obama administration’s secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document. ...
The memo, written last year, followed months of extensive interagency
deliberations and offers a glimpse into the legal debate that led to one
of the most significant decisions made by President Obama — to move ahead with the killing of an American citizen without a trial.
The secret document provided the justification for acting despite an
executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder,
protections in the Bill of Rights and various strictures of the
international laws of war, according to people familiar with the
--Charlie Savage, NYT, on when executive orders, federal laws, the Bill of Rights, and international laws are no obstacle