Justice Department ordered to turn over drone memo to New York Times
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court ordered the Department of Justice to turn over key portions of a memorandum justifying the government's targeted killing of people linked to terrorism, including Americans.
In a case pitting executive power against the public's right to know what its government does, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling preserving the secrecy of the legal rationale for the killings, such as the death of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.
Ruling for The New York Times, a unanimous three-judge panel said the government waived its right to secrecy by making repeated public statements justifying targeted killings.
They included a Justice Department “white paper,” as well as speeches or statements by officials such as Attorney General Eric Holder and former Obama administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan endorsing the practice.
The Times and two reporters, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane, sought the memorandum under the federal Freedom of Information Act, saying it authorized the targeting of al-Awlaki, a cleric who joined al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate and directed many attacks.
“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the DOJ White Paper,” Circuit Judge Jon Newman wrote for the appeals court panel in New York.
He said it was no longer logical or plausible to argue that disclosing the legal analysis could jeopardize military plans, intelligence activities or foreign relations.
The court redacted a portion of the memorandum on intelligence gathering, as well as part of its own decision. It is unclear when the memorandum or the full 2nd Circuit decision might be made public, or whether the government will appeal.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Judge orders nonprofit tax form release in case against IRS
- San Francisco blaze kills Mission District resident
- Alpha to idle two West Virginia coal mines
- Former GOP nominee Romney will not run for president in ’16
- Pittsburgh travelers feel effects of Northeast blizzard
- Police in South Carolina: Family killed man in custody fight
- Darmouth, in effort to quell ‘extreme behaviors,’ bans liquor on campus
- McCain to protesters: ‘Get out of here, you low-life scum’
- Medicare payments to tie doctor, hospital payments to quality rather than volume of care
- Former Idaho National Guard soldier’s benefits claims yield indictment
- Penn State University eyes changes to sexual misconduct case handling