Photo: MSGT SCOTT REED
The Obama administration’s classified legal memos justifying targeted killings contain potentially shady protocols with foreign governments and “case-specific” details of strikes, two sources aware of their contents told Krisitn Roberts and Michael Hirsch of the National Journal.The accords with foreign governments — which include Pakistan and Yemen — are a key element excluded from the Department of Justice (DoJ) “white paper.”
A legal expert outside the government “who is intimately familiar with the contents of the memos” told the Journal that targeted-killing memos written by the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) are being withheld to protect this information.
The Senate and House intelligence committees have only been allowed to examine four of the nine OLC memos.
The expert told the Journal that the administration believes Congress would leak the information to the public, which could be extremely embarrassing to the U.S. and its foreign partners given the unpopularity of the drone program and any legal or ethical liberties taken in the agreements.
The DoJ white paper summarized the legal reasoning behind targeting U.S. citizens abroad if they are believed to be senior leaders of al-Qaeda or “an associated force,” even if there is no evidence of an imminent plot against the U.S.
A former State Department legal counsel told the Journal that even if the memos contain secret protocols, there’s no reason why that information couldn’t be “redacted” and the rest of the memos released.
The legal expert noted that it’s unclear how many secret government-to-government protocols exist, but leaders of Algeria and Mali may have signed agreements.
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