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The American Civil Liberties Union will be in court Thursday to argue the CIA has to hand over information about its “secret” drone program because senior officials have openly acknowledged its existence.The ACLU filed a FOIA request in January 2010 that asked the government to disclose the legal basis for “its use of predator drones to conduct ‘targeted killings’ overseas,” but the CIA had refused to confirm or deny whether any records regarding drones exist.
“The notion that the CIA’s targeted killing program is a secret is nothing short of absurd,” ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who will argue the case before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Appeals Court, said in a press release. “For more than two years, senior officials have been making claims about the program both on the record and off.”
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in June 2010, arguing that Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives that the U.S. operates a drone program that directly involves killing Americans.
In May the New York Times cited several senior cabinet officials who said that President Obama personally oversees the drone “kill list.” Earlier this month President Obama himself opened up about the drone war, telling CNN that “drones are one tool that we use.”
“[Officials] claimed that the program is effective, lawful and closely supervised,” Jaffer said. “If they can make these claims, there is no reason why they should not be required to respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.”
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