A leaked secret Justice Department “white paper” detailing the Obama administration’s legal justification for the targeted drone assassinations of Americans living abroad made its way onto the Internet late Monday evening.

The 16-page white paper — said to be a summary of a longer 50-page document on the highly controversial policy — is seeing the light of day ahead of the Senate confirmation hearing of John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top pick for CIA chief.

The longer document was written in 2010 to justify the addition of al-Qaida member Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen, to Obama’s secretive “kill list.”

The white paper suggests that the federal government has legal recourse to engage in the extrajudicial assassination of an American citizen, reported NBC News, if “an informed, high-level official” has determined that the American is a “continuing” threat to the country.

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