WASHINGTON — The Biden administration last night released President Trump’s secret rules for use of lethal force against terrorism suspects abroad. The Trump “Principles, Standards, and Procedures for U.S. Direct Action Against Terrorist Targets” were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, ACLU v. DOD, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in December 2017 after the Trump administration refused to make the rules public. It later refused even to acknowledge the new rules existed. A federal court in September 2020 ruled the Trump administration could not keep the existence of its killing rules secret. The rules were also released to the New York Times, which filed a similar transparency suit. 

Below is comment from Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU, in response:

“We appreciate this release, which confirms our fear that President Trump stripped down even the minimal safeguards President Obama established in his rules for lethal strikes outside recognized conflicts. Over four administrations, the U.S. government’s unlawful lethal strikes program has exacted an appalling toll on Muslim, Brown, and Black civilians in multiple parts of the world. Secretive and unaccountable use of lethal force is unacceptable in a rights-respecting democracy, and this program is a cornerstone of the ‘forever wars’ President Biden has pledged to end. He needs to do so.”

The Trump administration PSP rules are here: https://www.aclu.org/foia-document/psp-foia-document-april-30-2021

More information about the case and all case documents are here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/aclu-v-dod-foia-case-seeking-trump-administrations-secret-rules-lethal-strikes-abroad

 

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