Author Topic: Court releases memo justifying drone strikes on Americans  (Read 329 times)

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Offline rangerrebew

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Court releases memo justifying drone strikes on Americans
« on: June 07, 2014, 04:50:47 PM »
U.S. seeks redactions in drone strike memo ruling
Jun. 6, 2014 - 01:52PM   |   

By Larry Neumeister
The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The U.S. government, citing possible “exceptionally grave harm to national security,” told a federal appeals court it wants to give the public less information about its legal justification for using drones to kill Americans suspected of terrorism overseas.

The Justice Department, Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency made the request in papers submitted late Thursday to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

The document outlining the justification was sought through a Freedom of Information request by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union. In April, a three-judge panel of the court ordered the memo released.

Lawyers for the government said they were not appealing the order but instead were demanding additional redactions to protect national security and to prevent damage to the government’s ability to engage in confidential deliberations and to seek confidential legal advice.

It asked that the full 2nd Circuit consider the request if the three-judge panel turned it down. It also suggested that the request be sent to the lower court for further review of specific changes the government was requesting.

Lawyers for the Times and ACLU said Friday that the government’s continued delays regarding the document are cheating the public of a fully informed and fair debate over the highly classified “targeted-killing” program.

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the government’s request was inconsistent with the message that President Barack Obama’s administration was sending to the Senate and the public when it indicated several weeks ago that it would release the document rather than appeal the ruling.

Without the document, “the public debate is distorted and the public is over-reliant on government’s sometimes self-serving characterizations of its policies and their legality,” he said.

David E. McCraw, vice president and assistant general counsel of The New York Times Co., said in an email: “The government raised all these points before and lost. After two and a half years of litigation, it’s time for the delays to stop so the American people can fully participate in the debate on this important issue.”

The FOIA request was made after two drone strikes killed three U.S. citizens. One, in September 2011 in Yemen, killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader who had been born in the United States, and Samir Khan. The other, in October 2011, killed Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, al-Awlaki’s teenage son.

Some legal scholars and human rights activists complained that it was illegal for the U.S. to kill American citizens away from the battlefield without a trial.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2014, 04:51:35 PM by rangerrebew »
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Offline Chieftain

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Re: U.S. seeks redactions in drone strike memo ruling
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2014, 05:14:32 PM »

Offline flowers

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Court releases memo justifying drone strikes on Americans
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 03:07:06 PM »

A federal appeals court on Monday released a once-secret memo that provides the Obama administration's legal justification for using drones to kill American terror suspects abroad.

The memo, released by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan as the result of a lawsuit, pertained to the targeted killing of American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. The document leaves no doubt that the Obama administration believed its actions were legal -- and believed that the Executive Branch was the body to render these decisions, without the involvement of a court. 

"High-level government officials have concluded ... [al-Awlaki] is a leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who activities in Yemen pose a 'continued and imminent threat' of violence to United States persons and interests," the memo said.

Portions of the 41-page, July 2010 memo are blacked out.

To back up its findings, the memo said: "facts presented to us indicate that [al-Awlaki] has been involved, through his operational and leadership roles in

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Re: Court releases memo justifying drone strikes on Americans
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2014, 08:17:02 AM »
More from HuffPost:
...    "There is no precedent directly addressing the question in circumstances such as those present here," David Barron, a recently confirmed judge for the First Circuit Court of Appeals, writes in the July 2010 memo, acknowledging that he is in uncharted waters as he concludes that the law authorizing force against al Qaeda also justifies killing Awlaki.

The document released Monday is a 41-page memo authored by Barron, who was then acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. It was released as part of a public records lawsuit against the government by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times.

The Justice Department released a white paper last year summarizing some of the memo's key conclusions: President Barack Obama's administration believed it could kill a senior member of al Qaeda as long as he posed an "imminent" threat to the United States.

But that white paper left many of the factual questions surrounding the justification for killing Awlaki unanswered, including how the government came to conclude that he was a senior member of al Qaeda, and why he posed an imminent threat.

The memo released Monday by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals did little more to answer those questions, after the court complied with the government's request to redact any facts that would reveal intelligence or military sources and methods.

Barron's memo relies heavily on "the facts related to us" by the CIA and Department of Defense, and bases much of its legal reasoning on the veracity of statements from those government agencies.

Other, still unreleased memos may provide more information about why the Obama administration believes it had the right to kill Awlaki, and the ACLU has pledged to continue its legal fight to have more government documents released. Barron references at one point an earlier memo that explains why "we do not believe that al-Aulaqi's U.S. citizenship imposes constitutional limitations that would preclude the contemplated lethal action."

“The release of this memo represents an overdue but nonetheless crucial step towards transparency. There are few questions more important than the question of when the government has the authority to kill its own citizens,” the ACLU's deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. ...
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