Anyway, here is what the lawyers to the president’s lawyer say about the legality of killing Americans who are constituted as al Qaeda or al Qaeda-linked threats. (The memo makes it clear that its language does not apply to other instances where American citizens might be killed by their government.)
1. “An informed, high-level official” must determine that the person represents “an imminent threat” of “violent attack against the United States.”
2. Capturing the dude is “infeasible,” and the government will continue to assess whether capturing him is feasible.
3. The killing, or “lethal operation,” must be conducted according to the laws of war. …
So here’s what that means: Even if the person is not actively planning terrorist attacks against the U.S., because of the nature of terrorist attacks in general, merely his membership in an organization that is planning those attacks meets the requisite definition of imminence.