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The ACLU applied for a license to represent the elder Mr. al-Awlaki 11 days ago, but has yet to receive it.

Mr. Szubin’s statement continued, saying: “[The Office of Foreign Asset Control’s] longstanding policy, as reflected in the general license, is to broadly authorize the provision of pro bono legal services to designated persons in legal proceedings challenging governmental action. To the extent that the particular legal services that the ACLU wishes to provide in this instance do not fall into any of the broad categories that are generally licensed, OFAC will work with the ACLU to ensure that the legal services can be delivered.”

The ACLU and CCR, in a joint statement, said in response: “OFAC has neither issued a license nor stated that we don’t need one. It suggests that it might eventually grant us a license for our work, but our application has already gone unanswered for eleven days. OFAC is well aware that the case relates to the government’s decision to add a U.S. citizen to its ‘targeted killing’ list. To say that the matter is urgent is a dramatic understatement. Instead of issuing press releases, OFAC should simply issue us a license.”

Dennis C. Blair, Mr. Obama’s first director of national intelligence, told Congress on Feb. 3 that there is a list of Americans who had joined al Qaeda who could be targeted for killing.

Stewart Baker, the author of a new book on technology and terrorism, “Skating on Stilts,” and a former general counsel for the National Security Agency, said Mr. al-Awlaki was a legitimate target for the U.S. military despite his American citizenship.

Awlaki has joined people who are engaged in military operations against the United States,” Mr. Baker said. “He is at war voluntarily with the United States and therefore the United States can shoot back.”