The drone strike memo that authorized the killing of U.S. born Anwar Al-Awlaki, was finally released after a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and the NY Times.
June 23, 2014

The drone strike memo that authorized the killing of U.S. born Anwar Al-Awlaki without due process was finally released after a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and the NY Times. As you know, I'm totally against the government killing one of its own citizens without due process no matter what crime they have committed. It's a precedent that we must not allow to stand.

Court Discloses Memo Approving Drone Strike on American

A federal appeals court in New York on Monday made public a redacted version of a 2010 Justice Department memo that signed off on the targeted killing of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, without a trial, following Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

The memo, signed by David Barron, who was then the acting head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel and is now a federal appeals court judge in Boston, concluded that it would be lawful to target Mr. Awlaki for killing if his capture was not feasible. Intelligence analysts had concludedthat Mr. Awlaki was an operational terrorist.


The New York Times reported on the contents and bureaucratic history of the then-classified memo a week after the strike, and the paper filed a lawsuit seeking its public disclosure under the information act in late 2011. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a similar but broader lawsuit in early 2012, and the two were consolidated.

The Obama administration fought the disclosure, initially refusing to confirm or deny the memo’s existence. In January 2013, a Federal District Court judge ruled that it could keep the memo secret. But in April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that portions of the memo containing legal analysis — but not those compiling the evidence against Mr. Awlaki — must be made on

The ACLU has released a statement about this news:

In response to a court order in consolidated Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times, the Obama administration has released a key Justice Department legal memo on U.S. targeted killing operations. The July 2010 memo was the basis for the government’s extrajudicial killing of an American citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, in 2011. In the memo, the government claims broad authority to kill American terrorism suspects without judicial process or geographic limitation.

“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,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the FOIA lawsuit before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
“This memo's release will allow the public to better understand the scope and implications of the authority the government is on

UPDATE: And don't forget to read empytwheel's investigation into the Awlaki memo here.

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