Target: Attorney General Eric Holder
Goal: Achieve full disclosure of the U.S. government’s legal position on the use of targeted drone killings of American citizens
On April 21, 2014, a three judge panel of the federal appeals court in Manhattan ordered the release of classified information regarding the extrajudicial killings of two American citizens in Yemen. The citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, were killed in 2011 via a targeted drone strike, without any trial or judicial oversight. The court decision was unanimous, and was prompted by a Freedom of Information Act filing by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times.
The document that supposedly provides the legal justification for these killings is a secret legal memorandum written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2010. The Obama Administration has claimed that the memo cannot be released on national security grounds. However, the appeals court found that the government’s claims of risk did not justify their secrecy. The administration should comply with the ruling and release all information related to this claim.
Since the Fifth Amendment guarantees that the government may not deprive a person of life “without due process of law,” it is important that this unilateral justification be open to analysis and legal debate. Sign this petition to stop the U.S. government from killing American citizens on foreign soil without judicial oversight or legal accountability.
Dear Attorney General Holder,
American citizens have both a right to due process when accused of a crime and a right to know what their government is doing on their behalf. The Obama administration’s claim to unilateral authority in the targeted drone killings of Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan violates both of these rights.
Democracy cannot function properly without transparency and accountability. The appeal court’s recent ruling ordering the release of information on the legal justification for targeted killings must be complied with in full. It is up to the people to decide whether the decision to kill American citizens on foreign soil without due process was justified. The administration should respect the court’s ruling, and release the memorandum justifying these killings for public scrutiny and debate.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force/Lt Col Leslie Pratt via Wikipedia