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United States Security

Administration Ordered To Divulge Legal Basis For Killing Americans With Drones 310

Posted by samzenpus
from the reason-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a claim brought by The New York Times and the ACLU, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the administration must disclose the legal basis for targeting Americans with drones. From the article: 'Government officials from Obama on down have publicly commented on the program, but they claimed the Office of Legal Counsel's memo outlining the legal rationale about it was a national security secret. The appeals court, however, said on Monday that officials' comments about overseas drone attacks means the government has waived its secrecy argument. "After senior Government officials have assured the public that targeted killings are 'lawful' and that OLC advice 'establishes the legal boundaries within which we can operate,'" the appeals court said, "waiver of secrecy and privilege as to the legal analysis in the Memorandum has occurred" (PDF).'"
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Administration Ordered To Divulge Legal Basis For Killing Americans With Drones

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  • SCOTUS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:41PM (#46807905)

    Good it passed appeals; the administration will likely appeal the decision and this is the kind of thing the SCOTUS will take. Frankly it's about time some of the "war on terror" policies were seriously and heavily scrutinized for their legality.

  • above the law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dlt074 (548126) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:47PM (#46807957)

    we have not followed the law of the land for some time. why start now?

    more meaningless proclamations.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpio- (986581) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:50PM (#46807991)
    So let me get this straight, it's perfectly OK to kill people with drones as long as they're not American citizens?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:51PM (#46808011)

    You are absolutely crazy if you think anyone in government wants to explain this or be associated with this. All parties want this to go away quietly, because there's a non-zero chance "their guy" will be using this same tactic in the coming years.

    This acts to disempower the government, which makes it a natural enemy to anyone working in the government.

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:54PM (#46808037)
    Since when is it permissible for any government to employ military force against its own (civilian) citizens? I'm pretty sure that armed (combat) drones are military technology.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:54PM (#46808041)

    You sure understand what it means to be living in a country that's supposed to be filled with free and brave people. You're an ally of democracy, due process, and individual liberties in general.

  • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:55PM (#46808057)

    Just because some of these so called "Americans" had a US passport doesn't mean they can take up arms against their country without consequences. I'm glad we can just blow these fuckers to smithereens and save taxpayer money on these enemy combatants. They should know not to fuck with US and should scare their buddies from thinking they can do the same.

    Yeah, fuck due process, fuck the constitution! The United States Constitution is un-American!

  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:59PM (#46808099) Homepage
    its easier to simply do something and say you're sorry later than to ask for permission or follow the rules. We've locked up japanese americans during the second world war for nothing more than being japanese. We've tortured and detained without trial in secret military prisons the nationals of other countries in which we've declared a war upon something so ephemeral as 'terror.' We shackled and enslaved thousands of africans throughout our history in direct defiance of the charter that all men are created equal. We exterminated more native americans than hitler killed jews, an entire race of natives, just because we could. We branded countless celebrities communist, forever obliterating both their good name and their gainful employment.

    in short, this administration as every one before it will invoke the same rhetoric to assert the privilege of spying on, and murdering, american citizens. that to think otherwise is unpatriotic, that to question it at all is tantamount to unamericanism. "Because fuck you, thats why."
  • by mveloso (325617) on Monday April 21, 2014 @02:59PM (#46808105)

    The funny thing is that this is one of the two things that Obama can't blame Bush for, the other one being ObamaCare. So it'll be interesting to see what happens when the administration loses.

  • by UconnGuy (562899) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:04PM (#46808159)

    With a Democratic Senate, there will be no impeachment.

    American Government fail on your part. The House of Representatives impeaches. The Senate convicts. Clinton was impeached, but not convicted and removed from office.

  • Re:Obligatory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:09PM (#46808209) Homepage Journal

    It'd certainly be a good border security method against Mexicans. In fact, they could start by just targetting drug runners and practically solve the drug problem overnight. Drug dealers cost America more money and kill more americans than terrorism by about 100000x

    When did drug smuggling become a capital crime?
    And when did suspicion (probable or not) of capital crime put aside the requirement for due process?

  • by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:13PM (#46808245)

    How long does it take before you're no longer allowed to justify what "your guy" does by pointing out the the "other guy" did bad stuff too? Does that end after Obama's current term, or are we still going to be hearing the "Bush did it too" excuse in 2020?

  • by qbast (1265706) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:14PM (#46808257)
    Bravo! USA is finally taking its well deserved place among countries like China and North Korea.
  • by geminidomino (614729) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:14PM (#46808259) Journal

    Really, that's your ad campaign? "USA: It's not as bad as China or North Korea?"

    You're just the spiritual successor to Steve Rogers there, aintcha?

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@caRASPrpanet.net minus berry> on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:14PM (#46808261) Homepage

    > Even a full Republican Congress would not move to impeach Obama on the basis of targeting Americans that
    > are ALLEGED terrorist operatives hanging out with other ALLEGED terrorists in Yemen...

    FTFY

  • Re:Not just US. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:15PM (#46808273)

    We're not really better, I guess. Just different.

    In fact, you're well on your way to being far far worse.

    Because you justify what you do as OK, and somehow different when other countries to it.

    The hypocrisy of America is become pretty brazen. You claim to support one set of principles, but actively work to undermine those principles around the world.

    You feel self entitled to do these things, and think the rest of the world should accept it because America is awesome.

    To the rest of the world, the US is rapidly becoming like a rabid dog roaming around the neighborhood.

    Xenophobic, whiny bitches, who work to undermine science, reason, and facts. Your propaganda machine is in full swing, and your citizens have been kept ill informed and in the dark.

    You're a fucking joke.

  • by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:16PM (#46808277) Journal

    History dictates that Obama will declare "executive privilege" or some other nonsense

    So he'll be like George Bush? After all, the previous administration used every trick in the book to prevent the public from knowing what the White House was doing such as claiming he needed "unbiased" information which is why he refused to turn over the visitor logs when meeting with oil executives on U.S. energy policy, or claimed that by not opening emails they weren't "read" and so the contents didn't have to be turned over to investigators, the public or even backed up for historical purposes.

    And let's not forget Bush (and Vice-President Cheney) avoided every single Congressional request to testify on the failings of his administration to prevent the 9/11 attacks, including refusing to hand over every document requested by the 9/11 Commission except for one page, heavily redacted, which had the title, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack the U.S.".

    So if you're saying Obama will declare "executive privilege" or some other nonsense, we can safely assume he is following the example of his predecessor

    Please tell me you are not using the wrongs of the past to justify the wrongs of today? Come on now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:18PM (#46808293)

    its easier to simply do something and say you're sorry later than to ask for permission or follow the rules. We've locked up japanese americans during the second world war for nothing more than being japanese. We've tortured and detained without trial in secret military prisons the nationals of other countries in which we've declared a war upon something so ephemeral as 'terror.' We shackled and enslaved thousands of africans throughout our history in direct defiance of the charter that all men are created equal. We exterminated more native americans than hitler killed jews, an entire race of natives, just because we could. We branded countless celebrities communist, forever obliterating both their good name and their gainful employment.

    in short, this administration as every one before it will invoke the same rhetoric to assert the privilege of spying on, and murdering, american citizens. that to think otherwise is unpatriotic, that to question it at all is tantamount to unamericanism. "Because fuck you, thats why."

    No. This administration is WORSE.

    They seem to actually believe their own rhetoric.

    Reagan in Iran-Contra - where they were bending and breaking laws trying to free Americans held hostage in Lebanon? North and Poindexter fall on their swords, Reagan uttered a sheepish, "Mistakes were made." Never did I get the impression they actually believed the crap they were saying. Fast and Furious - where Obama was running guns to Mexican drug lords (WTF for??!? No one knows...), we wind up with Holder held in contempt of Congress and "the most transparent administration in history" totally stonewalling like nothing happened. And I get the impression that the derps working for Obama actually believe the tripe they spew.. Same with the IRS targeting Tea Party groups - we have emails linking senior IRS leadership to the actions, and again, total stonewalling by True Believers.

    Hell, look at Bill Clinton - the damn reason Lewinsky didn't get him impeached for perjury is because everyone knew Clinton was a liar about cheating on Hillary and everyone knew Clinton knew he was a liar about it - and they voted him into office anyway.

    But Obama? He seems to really think he's the best at everything he tries. Hell - he's SAID that. He's a better speechwriter than his speechwriters: [politico.com]

    “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:19PM (#46808315)
    The problem here is that everyone is required to have health insurance and yet the health insurance companies themselves can still say "screw you" and say that something is either not covered or drop you should you actually "use" said coverage. The problem here is that not a damn thing is changing with the insurance companies and they are using this as a great new profit center as people are now *forced* to be their customers, when said coverage is going up in price to where coverage is now more expensive than one's house payment.
  • by GlennC (96879) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:29PM (#46808445)

    If I had to venture a guess, the Obama administration would say, "We did it because we can. Who's going to stop us?"

  • Re:Secret Laws? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:34PM (#46808485) Homepage Journal

    Who says we're a Constitutional Republic any longer?

    Secret Laws, Secret Warrants, Secret Detention and Secret Courts have been the norm since the Patriot Act, which was signed when we lost the War on Terror in 2001, by submitting to the terrorists and renouncing our freedoms in exchange for "Homeland Security".

    And we love it. Notice how many TV shows are about Law Enforcement these days?

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:43PM (#46808571) Homepage Journal

    My guy? Who said Obama is my guy? I am only pointing out that people who are up in arms about what he is doing were, for the most part, completely silent when Bush did it.

    Pick anything you like: executive privilege, spying on U.S. citizens, signing statements, the list goes on. Everything that he is doing, and the right is complaining about, are the exact same things Bush was doing and the right kept gloating about how well he was doing.

    We cannot have it both ways. If you're going to complain about how one person is doing something, you have to do it about the other. If you're not going to complain when your guy does it, you can't complain when someone else's guy does it.

  • by jittles (1613415) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:48PM (#46808603)
    Well, in one case specifically the US was targeting a US Citizen who was overseas and supposedly involved in terror campaigns. He had no trial, even in absentia, which convicted him of the crime. The administration just decided it was okay to find him, launch a Hellfire missile at the vehicle he was in, and end the problem for good. It's entirely different if you find out ex post facto that one of the participants was a US citizen.
  • Re:SCOTUS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotDrWho (3543773) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:49PM (#46808617)

    Yeah, and if SCOTUS rules against it they can use their many SCOTUS investigators to make sure the administration is complying, and the legendary SCOTUS army to stop them if they're not.

  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:54PM (#46808647)

    If there citizens are required to be afforded due process by constitution and can not be shown to receive such, it's forbidden. The actual question is how far they can/will go before there's enough push back to either make them decide to stop or face repercussions. All of this secrecy nonsense is simply meant to avoid some of the push back by implying there is legitimacy. So long as that strategy keeps working nothing is going to change.

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday April 21, 2014 @03:57PM (#46808683)

    When legal basis is secret, everything is legal... or illegal, as the keepers of the secrets deem fit.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday April 21, 2014 @04:31PM (#46809093)

    I think the killing of a US citizen who is located in a foreign state who is preaching violence and providing religious indoctrination for those carrying out acts of violence against the state and it's citizens

    Note that if he were in the US, "preaching violence and providing religious indoctrination", he would be protected by the First Amendment, at least up to the point that an actual act of violence occurred.

    At that point, I think they could get him for incitement, perhaps, but that crime doesn't carry a death penalty....

  • Re:SCOTUS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kilfarsnar (561956) on Monday April 21, 2014 @04:41PM (#46809213)

    Yeah, and if SCOTUS rules against it they can use their many SCOTUS investigators to make sure the administration is complying, and the legendary SCOTUS army to stop them if they're not.

    So can we just all admit that we have no control over our government anymore, and that any idea that we live in a democracy or a republic is just a pleasant fantasy? If a Supreme Court ruling can be simply ignored by the other two branches, why are they there?

  • by Xylantiel (177496) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:01PM (#46809461)

    I think the basic problem is that we are not at war with country X.

    I actually believe the basic bill of rights applies to the agents of government, not the people. i.e. it does not just protect these special people called "citizens", it restrains the government from certain actions, such as denial of due process of law, against any person. However, the general "rule of law" does not apply in a war zone. The problem is that we have become stupendously lax about exactly where the wars the US is currently fighting actually are. Are we at war with Pakistan? No, but we perform military strikes inside Pakistan without their consent. Are we a warlord or a modern country?

  • by boorack (1345877) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:23PM (#46809667)
    The saddest thing of this fiasco is that it applies only to Americans. (Un-)People of other nations are of no concern whatsoever. Obama can bomb the hell out of them and no one cares - at least in the US it not discussed at all. This looks pretty much like taken straight from nazi playbook. It emphasizes hipocrisy of all Americans proud of being "the greatest democracy in the world" (which it isn't).
  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Monday April 21, 2014 @05:46PM (#46809841)

    There is a difference, however subtle, between a government killing its own citizens versus other people. Governments kill citizens of other countries all the time, that's called war. When a government is using its military to attack its own citizens, regardless of which government it is, then that is a major problem. Those governments are typically not seen as very legitimate in modern times. Syria is a good example of that. Syria is an interesting case though, the world doesn't seem to really care what's happening there.

    It would be interesting to see the US government declared illegitimate by its people. I would support that, I know that I am not represented in my own government. If I contact my representatives I get a boilerplate response. If I try to meet with one of my representatives I get ignored. This country is definitely not a representative democracy or really even much of a republic, it is an oligarchy. The elite and wealthy are the ones with the real power, not the people in general.

  • Re:SCOTUS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Loki_1929 (550940) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:28PM (#46810745) Journal

    Yup. The problem here is not that the people do not have a means to control their government it is that the vast majority of them do not give a shit. We have become a nation of people that will wait till the cops arrive while being bludgeoned to death. We will vote which ever party promises us the most free stuff. We value the illusion of safety over freedom. the news anchor is our one true God.

    We have exactly the government we deserve.

    SOME people in this country have exactly the government they deserve. Those of us who faithfully follow the process, campaign for better ideas, and get nowhere because we're surrounded by masses of apathetic, incompetent idiots do not have the government we deserve. Significant power and authority returning to the individual states would help with that (not solve it by any means, but help).

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