Back to News & Commentary

Dear Senate, Demand to Read Drone Memos Before Voting on Barron Nomination

Zak Newman,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
Share This Page
May 5, 2014

The ACLU wrote today to the full Senate membership urging senators to read key memos on the drone targeted killing program before voting on the nomination of David Barron to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. You can read the full letter here.

Mr. Barron is the reported author of at least two memos from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel authorizing the killing of an American citizen by an armed drone away from any battlefield. In order to uphold its constitutional obligations, the Senate must demand access to these and other legal memos on the killing program before moving forward with any vote on his nomination.

The implications of Mr. Barron's secret memos are broad, having propped up the U.S. government's killing program. From our letter:

The OLC opinions written or signed by Mr. Barron helped form the purported legal foundation for a large-scale killing program that has resulted in, as Senator Lindsey Graham stated last year, as many as 4,700 deaths by drone attacks, including the deaths of four American citizens acknowledged by Attorney General Eric Holder (one of the United States citizens killed by a missile fired from a drone was a 16-year old boy).

All senators voting on Mr. Barron's nomination should be able to read these consequential memos in making their decision on a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, but so far the administration has only provided them to members of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.

As a matter of policy, the ACLU doesn't endorse or oppose individual nominees, but our letter strongly urges the Senate to delay any confirmation vote until all senators have an opportunity to see the targeted killing memos written or signed by Mr. Barron. Failure to do so would constitute a neglect of senators' constitutional obligation to provide "advice and consent" on judicial nominations.

Learn more about targeted killings and other civil liberty issues: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Learn More About the Issues on This Page