NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
"The court reaffirmed a bedrock principle of democracy: The people do not have to accept blindly the government's assurances that it is operating within the bounds of the law; they get to see for themselves the legal justification that the government is working from," McCraw said in a statement.
"This is a resounding rejection of the government's effort to use secrecy and selective disclosure to manipulate public opinion about the targeted killing program," ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.
The case is New York Times Co et al v. U.S. Department of Justice et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 13-422, 13-445.
Court orders U.S. to release memo on drones, al-Awlaki killing
Sometimes the judiciary does get it right but I'm sure this will not rise to the level of war crimes as it should.