Bush aide defends missile strike

Associated Press Nov. 11, 2002

WASHINGTON - President Bush has given U.S. officials "broad authority in a variety of circumstances" to protect the country, such as the CIA missile strike that killed a top al-Qaida suspect in Yemen, a senior White House aide said Sunday.

"I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here. There are authorities that the president can give to officials," his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said on Fox News Sunday.

"He's well within the balance of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority."

Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, described by U.S. and Yemeni officials as al-Qaida's chief operative in Yemen, was killed Tuesday along with five other men after a CIA Predator drone aircraft fired a missile at their car.

Al-Harethi was believed to have coordinated the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, which killed 17 U.S. sailors.

Yemeni and U.S. officials said the dead included a Yemeni-American, identified by Yemeni officials as Ahmed Hijazi. According to a U.S. official, Hijazi was linked to alleged members of the al-Qaida cell in suburban Buffalo, N.Y.

Rice would not say who authorized the strike.

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