The Los Angeles Times is reporting: “President Obama’s Justice Department will release a long-sought secret document laying out the legal basis for using drones to kill Americans suspected of terrorist activities abroad, administration officials confirmed Tuesday.
“Rather than appeal a court order that the so-called ‘drone memo’ be released under the Freedom of Information Act, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. concurred with the decision of Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli not to pursue the appeal and agreed to release a redacted version of the document, the officials said. …
“The news leaked a day before the Senate was scheduled to hold a procedural vote to advance the judicial nomination of the writer of the memo, David Barron, a former Justice Department official nominated to serve on the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.
“The promise of disclosure did not appear to derail a promised filibuster of the nomination by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul said last week that he had read the memo and wasn’t satisfied.
“And in an advance excerpt from his prepared remarks, released Tuesday, Paul said he would oppose the nomination of ‘anyone who would argue that the president has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat.'”
MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at gmail.com, @emptywheel
Wheeler is an independent journalist who covers national security and civil liberties. She writes in various outlets including her emptywheel.net blog. She just wrote “Obama to Release OLC Memo After Only 24 Congressional Requests from 31 Members of Congress.” She has also recently written the pieces “Why You Should Take Rand Paul’s Latest Stand on Drones Seriously” and “Why Should Someone Who Authorized Due Process Free Executions Be A Judge Anyway?” and other articles on Barron.
FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of Tackling America’s Toughest Questions. While the administration now states it will release the memos Barron wrote only after the Senate votes on his judgeship, an associated white paper has been made public.
Boyle said of the white paper: “It’s not a serious piece of legal scholarship or analysis. Rather, the entire purpose is to provide legal cover to Obama, [CIA Director John] Brennan, the CIA and JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command] for the drone murders, including of U.S. citizens.
Boyle added: “Barron co-authored the infamous Justice department opinion authorizing Obama’s murder of U.S. citizens. This is a total disgrace. If approved, we will have a murderer and a war criminal sitting on the U.S. First Circuit. … So here Barron and [his coauthor in the legal opinion Martin] Lederman deliberately and maliciously write a get-out-of-jail-free card for Obama so that he can murder U.S. citizens, which he does. … Barron is neither fit nor qualified to serve as a judge on the First Circuit — a post which would make him a prime candidate for a U.S. Supreme Court seat. … This is exactly how Bush paid back Jay Bybee [author of legal memos on torture] when he put him on the Ninth Circuit. Obama is worse than Bush in that Obama is a lawyer and knows better.”