The administration seems happy to answer whether or not anyone has been killed in a drone strike in the United States. No one has yet answered whether targeted killings, conducted via some means other than drones, have ever been carried out. And no one has yet answered whether either the Obama administration or the Bush administration before it ever has operated at the boundaries of what OLC says is possible within the United States.
That’s important because people have died in counterterrorism operations within the United States. As just one example, an African-American Muslim cleric, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, died in an arrest raid in Dearborn, Mich., in October 2009. As with Anwar al-Awlaki — the Yemeni-American cleric killed in Yemen in 2011 in the best-known targeted killing directed against an American — the government claimed Abdullah was a highly placed leader of a radical Islamist group training to conduct jihad against the United States (though much of their evidence consists of his blustery attacks on the United States). The FBI brought a team of 66 FBI agents — 29 in the immediate team — including two K-9 teams, snipers and a master breacher, to arrest Abdullah and four associates.