I started a thread about this a couple of years ago and I was very concerned about going down this road and where it would lead. I am still concerned but in the very specific case of Anwar Al-Awlaki that was a justified killing. He was an enemy combatant and had re announced his US citizenship, and was actively trying to plot to kill Americans plus Congress had already given the POTUS and the military the authority to go after and kill AQ which is still in effect today.
I thought this sums it up well..
You would have a stronger case if Awlaki had been killed in the U.S. But he was in Yemen — as an avowed member of al-Qaeda, a foreign enemy our nation is at war with under Congress’s authorization of military force. There already is precedent for conducting military operations against Americans under those circumstances, most recently the Supremes’ 2004 Hamdi ruling.
The precedent that would be radical is the one that American citizens carry the protections of the Constitution wherever in the world they go, and however hostile their stance toward the U.S., even in wartime. How far do we take that precedent? Would we have needed an arrest warrant to capture Awlaki? A search warrant to raid his hideout in Yemen? Would he need to be brought to the nearest available magistrate, assigned counsel, and advised of the charges against him? Does he get Miranda warnings? Does it matter the the writ of American courts and the authority of American law-enforcement agents do not apply in Yemen? Does it matter that Congress has authorized military operations and, therefore, that the laws of war apply?
I think you can see Awlaki as an enemy combatant or as a criminal defendant, but you have to follow through with the logic and consequences of either choice. In my mind, he’s an enemy combatant.
As far Samir Khan goes he wasn't the intended target he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
My advice to any American in the Middle East is don't hang out with terrorists there is a good chance you will be killed by a drone.