Targeted Killing Program Used Against Anwar Al-Awlaki Will Remain Under Wraps After Judge's Ruling
"The Obama administration will be able to keep secret its legal justification for killing without a trial an American suspected of joining al Qaeda after a federal judge on Wednesday dismissed most of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times.
New York Southern District Court Judge Colleen McMahon issued a ruling acknowledging that the government's actions "seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution." Still, she concluded, citing a "veritable Catch-22" of a "thicket of laws and precedents," she could not order disclosure of the Department of Justice memorandum supporting the 2011 drone killing of alleged al Qaeda militant -- and American citizen -- Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
The judge's ruling hinged on the Freedom of Information Act Law, not on the drone program itself.
Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, called it a "disappointment." Still, he noted McMahon's almost woeful tone, along with the fact that she spent "several pages talking about the very troubling questions that relate to the substantive authority itself that the government is claiming to carry out these extrajudicial killings of people who are located far away from any conventional battlefield."
McMahon said there were "legitimate reasons" to question the legality of killings like al-Awlaki's".