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Court Releases OLC Memo on Targeted Killings

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has released a redacted version of a July, 2010 memo by acting chief David Barron of the Office of Legal Counsel on targeted killings. You can read it here. The memo was the subject of an FOIA lawsuit by the ACLU and New York Times, and was authority for the 2011 killings of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki his son, and Samir Kahn, all of whom were U.S. citizens.

The Court also re-issued its opinion from April removing some redactions the Government still wanted to keep secret. The Court said there is no longer any reason for secrecy as to what country Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in and that the CIA was involved. Both had been disclosed by Administration officials in the White Paper and in media interviews. The ACLU has highlighted the unredacted portions in the decision here.

The ACLU will be posting analysis of the memo here.

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John Brennan's Confirmation Hearing

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will hold a hearing at 2:30 pm ET today on the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director.

Yesterday, President Obama announced that the Office of Legal Counsel's targeted kill memo(s) will be provided to the members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Brennan's answers to pre-hearing questions are here. His answers pertaining to rendition, detention and interrogation begin on page 21.

Brennan, who is expected to be confirmed, will face some tough questioning, especially by Democrats. [More...]

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AG Eric Holder on Targeted Killings

At 4:30 pm ET, Attorney General Eric Holder will explain and attempt to legally justify the U.S. policy on targeted killings in a speech at Northwestern University in Chicago. He will also discuss the revamped military commission trials and successes of federal terror prosecutions.

Update: Prepared remarks here.

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Debate Continues on Targeted Killings of U.S. Citizens

The debate continues on the legality of the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki. The White House Counsel opinion supporting the practice apparently is still classified as no one has published a copy. But State Department legal advisor Harold Koh explained it pretty clearly in March, 2010:

What I can say is that it is the considered view of this Administration—and it has certainly been my experience during my time as Legal Adviser—that U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war.

....As recent events have shown, al-Qaeda has not abandoned its intent to attack the United States, and indeed continues to attack us. Thus, in this ongoing armed conflict, the United States has the authority under international law, and the responsibility to its citizens, to use force, including lethal force, to defend itself, including by targeting persons such as high-level al-Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks.

What about the criteria? Koh said: [More...]

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