Department provide any legal opinions on the President’s authority to “deliberately killAmerican citizens.”Now that the Obama administration is no longer illegitimately keeping the targeted killingmemo secret from senators, who under law should be able to see it, the American CivilLiberties Union (ACLU) has renewed calls for the administration to make the full memopublic:“While this is a small step in the right direction, democratic transparency requiresPresident Obama to make the full memo available to the public. The United States isnot a nation of secret laws, and a memo authorizing the killing of American citizens is tooimportant to keep from the American people,” ACLU Senior Legislative CounselChristopher Anders said.“Everyone – not just select members of Congress – has a right to know when thegovernment believes it can kill American citizens. This concession has taken far too longand falls far short of President Obama’s commitment to transparency he pledged toabide by since becoming president.”In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the New York Times and the ACLU,the Justice Department, CIA and Defense Department argued in a case that it won that itdid not have to disclose the legal basis for killing US citizens because it would reveal“classified and statutorily protected information.”It maintained it could not reveal whether memos had been drawn up to justify the killingsof Al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki or Samir Khan because thatwould reveal whether the CIA was behind those killings or not.Essentially, the government contended it could keep secret interpretations of the law andthe families of citizens assassinated by their own government have no right to knowwhat agency was responsible for executing them.Officials like Attorney General Eric Holder and Brennan made speeches in 2012 on thetargeted killing program. The ACLU attempted to cite the speeches and statementsmade by the president during a Google chat and on television to bolster a case forreleasing the memo. The government did not change its position.As the ACLU pointed out in their targeted killing FOIA lawsuit, for years now, “Seniorgovernment officials have freely disclosed information about the CIA’s drone program,both on the record and off, while the CIA has insisted to this Court and others that theprogram cannot be discussed, or even acknowledged, without jeopardizing nationalsecurity.
“One consequence is that the public’s understanding of the effectiveness,morality, and legality of the government’s bureaucratized killing program comessolely from the government’s own selective, self-serving, and unverifiablerepresentations concerning it.”