Just getting back on the grid today after a few days off of it, so getting caught up with much, including today's release of the legal memo [PDF] detailing the Obama Administration's claim of legal authority for the 2011 targeted drone killing of U.S. citizen and alleged terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
(Three other U.S. citizens were also killed in drone strikes abroad, including al-Awlaki's 16-year old son one month after his father, though the Administration contends those killings were incidental deaths during strikes targeting others...as if that makes them less awful somehow? In any event...)
As the Washington Post notes, portions of the document are redacted, including "paragraphs that presumably explained why the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel determined that killing Awlaki in a drone strike would not violate the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees due process to U.S. citizens accused of crimes."
The paper adds, however, that "the memo provides previously unknown details about the reasoning behind one of the most controversial counterterrorism operations carried out by the U.S. government since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."
But what caught my eye in particular today, was the Congressional Progressive Caucus' somewhat snarky, if very clever, promotion of their press release in response to the released (and redacted) memo, which Roll Call's Steven Dennis describes as "Progressive Caucus Trolls Obama on Drone Memo"...
Mike Casca, the Communication Director for caucus co-chair Keith Ellison (D-MN) emailed the following version of the CPC's press release today [click graphic to enlarge]:
While Casca's clever version of the CPC statement caught the attention of a number of political reporters (including my own), the content is also of note.
The unredacted CPC statement offers both applause and a call for still more transparency by the Administration after today's release of the redacted legal memo. That release was ordered by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. But, as WaPo describes it, the memo's "disclosure also represents a significant capitulation by the Obama administration which fought for years to keep the memo --- as well as many other aspects of its targeted killing program --- secret from the public."
CPC Co-Chair Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) says in their release today: "It's time to end the secrecy surrounding our drone policies, and I applaud the administration's move to release this memo. It's a far cry from outright transparency, but it is a good first step."
Ellison adds: "The American people can now learn more about a program that has claimed the lives of innocents and damaged our reputation abroad. The release of this secret memo is a victory for transparency. But more must be done to inform the public and have accountable policies."
CPC Whip Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) concluded the statement: "The release of this secret memo is a good step toward transparency but we have a long way to go." She went on to call for the repeal of Congress' Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), cited by the Obama Administration as giving them the legal authority for such killings, without due process, anywhere in the world. Lee, it should be noted, was the only member of either the U.S. House or Senate to vote against the AUMF back in 2001, just days after the 9/11 attacks. She says in today's statement that the authorization "has allowed endless war with little Congressional debate, input or oversight."
The 69 current members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are listed here.
It's good to see the members of a Democratic caucus working to hold one of their own accountable, even if it takes a bit of "trolling" to help do it. It's hard to imagine one of the Republican caucuses doing something like that during the Administration of George W. Bush, frankly.