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Mark Mahoney's Your Right to Know
by Mark Mahoney

Your Right to Know

A Daily Gazette opinion blog
An interactive forum for readers on open government issues.

Secret memo on drone killing released by feds

In a victory for transparency over government secrecy, a federal appeals court in Manhattan -- ruling on a lawsuit brought by The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union under the federal Freedom of Information Act -- released a 41-page memo in which the Justice Department justified the reasons for using drones to kill American citizens abroad if they are plotting to attack Americans.
The memo justified the 2011 killing in Yemen of Anwar al-Awlaki, a 40-year-old New Mexico native suspected of plotting terrorist acts with al-Qaeda.
The government has a bad habit of slapping a "TOP SECRET" label on anything related to national security or terrorism, regardless of whether the information actually has a direct effect on our country's ability to conduct anti-terrorism measures or preserve the national defense.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Monday, in a 66-page ruling, found in releasing virtually all of the lightly redacted memo that while some information containing legal reasoning and items vital to the protection of the national defense could be withheld, other portions could not be.
The court essentially found that the government could not justify in this case certain exceptions to the federal Freedom of Information Act to keep such documents secret.
Here is a link to the court's decision.
Here is a link to the actual memo justifying the killing of al-Awlaki.".

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