Senators to See Memo on Targeted Killings of US Citizens

Wednesday, 07 May 2014 06:19 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The confirmation chances for Harvard law professor and former acting Assistant Attorney General David Barron to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston may have gotten a boost.

Facing demands from Republicans and Democrats, the Obama administration will release to senators a legal memo, co-written by Barron, justifying the targeted killings of U.S. citizens who are enemy combatants, The Hill reported.

American-born Anwar al-Awlaki was assassinated in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike in 2011 while fighting with al-Qaida.

"I can confirm that the administration is working to ensure that any remaining questions members of the Senate have about Barron's legal work at the Department of Justice are addressed, including making available in a classified setting a copy of the al-Awlaki opinion to any senator who wishes to review it," said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, according to The Hill.

Barron's confirmation process had been put on hold as leverage to get the administration to release the legal reasoning behind the decision to carry out extra-judicial killings of American citizens.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., wrote that disclosure of the document was necessary to "allow the Senate to gain critical insight into David Barron's judicial philosophy."

Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall said, "Barron's nomination understandably raises key questions about the administration's legal justification for the targeted killing of Americans."

The American Civil Liberties Union had called on senators not to proceed with the confirmation process until they had studied the memo.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who had also called for the release of the memo, said he was pleased senators will now be given access.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said handing over the one memo was insufficient. "It's anybody's guess what other relevant materials on the drone program written by, or related to, Mr. Barron haven't been released," according to The Hill.

In 2013, President Barack Obama issued new guidelines pledging that lethal force against Americans would only be used "to prevent or stop attacks against U.S. persons, and even then, only when capture is not feasible, and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively."

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