2014-04-21T170209Z_3_CBREA3K17QX00_RTROPTP_2_YEMEN

Court orders U.S. to release memo on drones, al-Awlaki killing

Tribesmen stand on the rubble of a building destroyed by a U.S. drone air strike, that targeted suspected al Qaeda militants in AzanBy Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to turn over key portions of a memorandum justifying the government’s targeted killing of people linked to terrorism, including Americans. In a case pitting executive power against the public’s right to know what its government does, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling preserving the secrecy of the legal rationale for the killings, such as the death of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. Ruling for the New York Times, a unanimous three-judge panel said the government waived its right to secrecy by making repeated public statements justifying targeted killings. These included a Justice Department “white paper,” as well as speeches or statements by officials like Attorney General Eric Holder and former Obama administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, endorsing the practice.

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