Obama Admin Signals it Will Release Redacted Drone Memo
The Obama administration has signaled that it will publicly reveal a redacted version of a memo that explains its legal justification for using drones to kill American citizens overseas.
Read background below from FoxNews.com:
The decision to release the documents comes as the Senate is to vote Wednesday on advancing President Obama's nomination of the memo's author, Harvard professor and former Justice Department official David Barron, to sit on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has vowed to fight Barron's confirmation, and some Democratic senators had called for the memo's public release before a final vote. Paul reiterated his opposition on Wednesday.
"I cannot support and will not support a lifetime appointment of anyone who believes it's OK to kill an American citizen not involved in combat without a trial," Paul said in the Senate.
But a key Democratic holdout against Barron's nomination, Sen. Mark Udall D-Colo., announced Tuesday night he will now support Barron because the memo is being released.
"This is a welcome development for government transparency and affirms that although the government does have the right to keep national security secrets, it does not get to have secret law," Udall said in a statement.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had also been pushing for public disclosure of Barron's writings and was one of several Democrats who had been refusing to say whether he'd vote for confirmation without it. "That's certainly very constructive," Wyden said when told of the decision not to appeal.
Wednesday's expected procedural vote would allow the Senate to move ahead with a final vote on Barron on Thursday. "I think we'll be OK," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said earlier Tuesday.
Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al Qaeda leader born in the United States, was killed after being targeted by a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. 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.
The White House had agreed under the pressure to show senators unredacted copies of all written legal advice written by Barron regarding the potential use of lethal force against U.S. citizens in counterterrorism operations.
Until now, the administration has fought in court to keep the writings from public view. But administration officials said that Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. decided this week not appeal an April 21 ruling requiring disclosure by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and that Attorney General Eric Holder concurred with his opinion.
The release could take some time, since the redactions are subject to court approval. And the administration also is insisting that a classified ruling on the case also be redacted to protect information classified for national security, but not the legal reasoning, one of the officials said.
Judge Andrew Napolitano discussed the memo’s release with Shepard Smith this afternoon.
“If there are genuine military or diplomatic or national security secrets in there, no one would seriously suggest that that should be released, but these are legal memos. The government is entitled to know secrets, but they are not entitled to a secret law. The laws are public, the opinions of the court interpreting the laws are public, the government’s rationale should be made public as well,” he said.
No matter what’s in the memo, Napolitano said that by the time we see it, it will be too late because Barron will have already been appointed to the court.
“Who would want to be judged by a judge who says the president can kill whoever he wants?”
Watch his legal analysis above.
Get more analysis from Judge Napolitano on Fox News: