Holder: Drone strikes have killed four Americans since 2009

(CNN) — Counterterrorism drone strikes have killed four Americans overseas since 2009, the U.S. government acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday, one day before President Barack Obama delivers a major speech on related policy.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Attorney General Eric Holder said the United States specifically targeted and killed one American citizen, al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, in 2011 in Yemen, alleging he was plotting attacks against the United States.

The letter provided new details about al-Awlaki's alleged involvement in bomb plots targeting U.S. aviation.

Holder also said the Obama administration was aware of three other Americans who had been killed in counterterrorism operations overseas.

Holder said Samir Kahn, Abdul Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki and Jude Kenan Mohammed were not targeted by the United States but he did not add more details about their deaths.

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