Nightly News   |  May 22, 2013

White House admits to killing four Americans with drones

In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder detailed the legal defense for targeting the American citizens. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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>>> now to the news that broke late today. the u.s. government admitting for the first time that the u.s. military has killed four americans in drone strikes overseas. our chief white house correspondent/political director chuck todd is with us with this story tonight. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. it's been one of the more secretive aspects of the war. for the first time the obama administration is confirming what we had already reported for some time -- that the government targeted a u.s. citizen , anwar al alwaki. three others have been killed in drone strikes. attorney general eric holder detailed a legal defense for targeting al-alaki. holder wrote his targeting of americans including the attempted underwear bomber attack and the plot to hide bombs on cargo plans made him a legally justified target because he was an imminent threat, could not be captured and was a legitimate target under war. this comes on the eve of a speech in which president obama plans to lay out a broader counter terrorism framework and much more public oversight of drone strikes. he's expected to unveil a new plan to try to shut down the prison camp on guantanamo bay cuba.

>> chuck todd from the white house tonight. chuck, thanks.