Obama Administration Files Midnight Brief Defending Secrecy Surrounding “Targeted Killing” Program

June 21, 2012

ACLU Condemns Lack of Transparency, Cites “Profound Concerns” With Bureaucratized Killing Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: ACLU national, media@aclu.org

Just before a midnight deadline, the Obama administration filed a 50-page brief this evening defending the secrecy surrounding the “targeted killing” program.  The administration writes: “Whether or not the CIA has the authority to be, or is in fact, directly involved in targeted lethal operations remains classified.”  The case concerns a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU last year for records concerning the targeted killing program generally as well as the killing of three American citizens in Yemen last year. 

The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:

“The notion that the CIA’s targeted killing program is still a secret is beyond absurd.  Senior officials have discussed it, both on the record and off.  They have taken credit for its putative successes, professed it to be legal, and dismissed concerns about civilian casualties.  If they can make these claims to the media, they can answer requests under the Freedom of Information Act.  The public is entitled to know more about the legal authority the administration is claiming and the way that the administration is using it.  The administration should release the legal memos that purportedly justify the targeted killing program, and it should release more information about the process by which individuals, including American citizens, are added to government kill lists.  It should also release the evidence that led the administration to kill three Americans, including a 16-year-old boy, last year.” 

“We continue to have profound concerns with the power the administration is claiming and with the proposition that the President should be permitted to exercise this power without oversight by the courts. That the administration believes a power so sweeping should be exercised in secret is astounding.” 

Today’s filing comes after the government sought several extensions to respond to the ACLU’s lawsuit.  In its last request for an extension, the government stated to the court that it needed further time to allow for “deliberations at the highest levels of the Executive Branch.”

The government's brief can be found here:
www.aclu.org/files/assets/https___ecf.nysd_.uscourts.gov_cgi-bin_show_temp.pl_file10176016-0--17573.pdf

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