Drone Memos Can Remain Secret

The federal government does not need to disclose the legal opinions and other documents justifying the use of drone to target suspected terrorists overseas, a federal judge ruled this week. As Josh Gerstein reports, the ACLU and New York Times had sought their release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). While Judge Colleen McMahon noted there were “legitimate reasons” to question the legality of the use of drone strikes for targeted killings overseas, and thought disclosure of the legal rationale relied upon by the administration would further public debate on the use of drones, she concluded the relevant documents were lawfully withheld under FOIA. While I, like many others, would like to see the relevant memos, Judge McMahon’s opinion is likely correct.

Rafaella Wakeman and Robert Chesney comment at the Lawfare blog.