The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the US authorities in an effort to compel a courtroom to launch documents detailing the Obama administration’s use of a secret, so-called “kill list” containing potential drone strike targets.
Filed Monday in US District Court in Manhattan, the lawsuit asks the Southern District of New York to order 4 authorities businesses, together with the Departments of Justice, Defense and State, to heed Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the ACLU in 2013 in regards to the administration’s “targeted killing” program.
Although the US has relied on unmanned weaponized plane, or drones, to conduct strikes in counterterrorism and army operations for over a decade, the ACLU says the Obama administration has been removed from forthcoming with regards to releasing particulars on to how these operations are carried out.
“Despite the public promises of openness, the government has continued to fight tooth-and-nail against releasing documents,” ACLU authorized fellow Matthew Spurlock mentioned in a press release Monday.
The ACLU started submitting requests in October 2013 for data containing any authorized justification for the deadly drone strikes and the method by which these targets are designated, “before-the-fact assessments” regarding potential civilian or bystander casualties and the names and numbers of people killed or damage on account of these “targeted killings.” Nearly a yr and a half later, nonetheless, the ACLU says that not one of the businesses served with FOIA requests have adopted by way of and launched documents, regardless of assurances given by Obama.
This week’s lawsuit asks the District Court to order the Justice Department, the Pentagon, the State Dept. and the CIA – in addition to the Dept. of Defense’s Office of Legal Counsel and Office of Information Policy – to “immediately produce all records” on the drone strikes.
“The Obama administration has made numerous promises of greater transparency and oversight on drones,” Spurlock mentioned. “In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama pledged to make lethal targeting ‘more transparent to the American people and the world’ because ‘in our democracy, no one should just take my word for it that we’re doing things the right way.’ But the administration has failed to follow through on these commitments to openness, and it is continuing to withhold basic information.”
Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s authorized director, informed The Guardian this week that US-led drone strikes have been blamed within the deaths of hundreds of individuals, together with a whole lot of harmless civilians.
“The public should know who the government is killing, and why it’s killing them,” Jaffer mentioned.
Spurlock mentioned Monday that the discharge of the Al-Awlaki memo was an “important victory for transparency,” however however leaves many questions unanswered.
A New York Times report from 2012 revealed that the Obama administration maintains an increasing “kill list,” described by the paper as “macabre ‘baseball cards’ of an unconventional war” containing the main points of suspects looked for execution by drone.
One of the administration documents sought by the ACLU, and efficiently acquired, revealed that the US thought of Al-Awlaki an “operational leader” of an “enemy force,” and subsequently may very well be focused “as part of the US’ ongoing non-international armed conflict with Al-Qaeda.” With different requests for particulars having gone unfulfilled, nonetheless, the group hopes to have a District Court decide compel the federal government to make additional disclosures.
Explaining the 2011 strike that killed Al-Awlaki in Yemen, US Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned in 2012 that “Al-Awlaki repeatedly made clear his intent to attack US persons and his hope that these attacks would take American lives.” He added: “Based on this information, high-level US government officials appropriately concluded that Al-Awlaki posed a continuing and imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.”
Spurlock mentioned that the Obama administration’s drone program “lives far too deep in the shadows.” He added: “As long as the government continues its campaign of secret, unacknowledged lethal strikes across the globe, we will fight to subject this policy to the scrutiny and debate it deserves.”