Success: Administration to Release Information on Targeted Killings


Target: Senators Mark Udall and Rand Paul

Goal: Thank Senators Udall and Paul for insisting on government accountability

The Obama administration has decided to comply with the court ruling ordering it to release a secret memo that contains the legal justification for the targeted killing of a United States citizen on foreign soil. The citizen, Anwar Al-Awaki, was killed in 2011 in Yemen via drone strike without any due process of law, which is guaranteed to all citizens by the Fifth Amendment.

The memo in question was written by David Barron, a Harvard Law professor and former acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. In it Barron concludes that the death of Mr. Al-Awaki at the hands of American military personnel was legal based on intelligence that the target was a senior operational terrorist for an enemy organization, that he was planning attacks on the United States, and that it would not be feasible to capture him alive.

Since the administration based its decision to carry out the execution on this detailed legal justification, it is imperative to the democratic process that the memo be open to outside analysis and legal debate. We all have a right to know what our government can do to us, and what it is doing on our behalf.

Barron is now the administration’s first choice to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals. The memo has been released because several senators stated that they would not confirm Barron without knowledge of his legal opinions. Thank these senators for their insistence on government transparency and accountability.


Dear Senator Udall and Senator Paul,

A government should be held to its own highest ideals. Your insistence on accountability for the death of Anwar Al-Awaki is a perfect example of this sentiment in action. We cannot trust our government if the rights guaranteed to us by the constitution can be overruled by closed courts and secret legal memos.

The release of this memo will allow the American people and their representatives to decide if the government’s actions were justified. This is a welcome shift in the government’s approach to transparency. Thank you for supporting a more open and accountable government for all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

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