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ACLU blasts CIA 'hit list'

NEW YORK, April 29 (UPI) -- A policy authorizing the use of lethal force against terrorist suspects, including U.S. citizens, is beyond the limits of the law, the ACLU said.

The American Civil Liberties Union protested in a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama the "reported authorization" of lethal force against terrorist suspects.

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ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero in the letter criticized what he described as bureaucratized killing.

"A program of long-premeditated and bureaucratized killing is plainly not limited to targeting genuinely imminent threats," he wrote. "Any such program is far more sweeping than the law allows and raises grave constitutional and human rights concerns."

The ACLU complains the use of lethal force against targets outside conflict zones is prohibited under international law and the U.S. Constitution "at least in some circumstances."

Washington is often under fire for its use of unmanned aerial drones to strike Taliban and al-Qaida targets in Pakistan. The CIA, meanwhile, added U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida ideologue, to its hit list in early April.

Romero complains that Washington's mixed record with justifying the detention of suspected terrorists puts the targeting of militants in question.

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"This experience should lead you to reject out of hand a program that would invest the CIA or the U.S. military with the unchecked authority to impose an extrajudicial death sentence on U.S. citizens and others found far from any actual battlefield," writes Romero.

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