ACLU Seeks Answers Regarding the Due Process Free Killings of American Citizens
In the wake of targeted drone strikes that killed three American citizens in Yemen a few weeks back, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking to compel the federal government to turn over its information regarding the legal and factual basis authorizing the killings. At the ACLU’s blog, Nathan Freed Wessler writes:
The killing of three American citizens raises serious and troubling questions about whether the U.S. government was acting lawfully when it placed Anwar al-Awlaki’s name on a “kill list” and when it ordered the deadly drone strikes. But the government is hiding behind a veil of secrecy and is refusing to publicly release information about its justifications for killing U.S. citizens far from any active battlefield. We know from reports in the press that the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) produced a memorandum providing legal justifications for killing al-Awlaki and that he was placed on a so-called “kill list” by a secret group of government officials. The government refuses to release the OLC memo or any other information about the legal and factual bases for killing Anwar and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, however.
Before the public can determine whether the targeted killings of these U.S. citizens were lawful, the government must come clean and release the OLC memo and other records. Indeed, commentators and legal experts from across the political spectrum, from John Bellinger III, a former legal adviser to the State Department in the Bush administration, to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, have made forceful appeals for the release of these documents. Jack Goldsmith, who ran the Office of Legal Counsel under President Bush in 2003 and 2004, wrote that the OLC memo must be released because “legal accountability for the practice of targeted killings depends on a thorough public legal explanation by the administration.” Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution echoed Goldsmith’s call. Even John Yoo, author of the Bush administration’s infamous “torture memos,” has pointed out the hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s refusal to release the targeted killing memo.
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