President Obama is facing heat for recently published Justice Department documents (“white paper”) that say killing Americans suspected of terrorism without due process is perfectly legal.

The relatively conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board lends its support to the administration:

[S]urely Senator Obama would now be denouncing the ways that President Obama has embraced the unilateral, even pre-emptive powers that George W. Bush used in prosecuting the war against al Qaeda. …

Hypocrisy aside, the Justice Department makes an adequate legal case. If John Yoo or Dick Cheney had written it, the document would no doubt be less defensive in asserting executive powers. There might be less talk about “balancing analysis” and more of Constitutional prerogatives. But the Obama paper gets to the correct legal conclusion. …

Critics shout that the white paper is a license to kill anyone, anywhere, but that is also false. The memo limits the targets to “a senior operational leader” of al Qaeda “or its associated forces.” Congress deliberately included the latter phrase because al Qaeda is a loose network that can strike in many places. It recognizes that this is a long conflict that will be fought in many places and that jihadists will seek new sanctuaries.

Both the Washington Post and New York Times also have editorials on the subject today, but more critical than supportive.