US Judge Rules DoJ Must Release Drone Killing Rationale Documents

Tyler Durden's picture

In yet another surprising 'loss' for the current administration, RT reports a three-judge 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling that would have allowed the federal government to keep the rationale behind drone killings classified. The US Department of Justice must turn over important details from a key "White Paper" which the government has used to justify targeted killings across the Middle East. While the document was no secret (with parts leaked before Brennan's swearing in as CIA chief last year), the judges ruled that "whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost be virtue of public statements of public officials and official disclosure of the DOJ White Paper." As the ACLU stated, "This is a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to use secrecy, and selective disclosure, as a means of manipulating public opinion about the targeted killing program."


As RT reports, The New York Times – two reporters in particular, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane – fought for the release of a Justice Department “White Paper” that contains a detailed explanation of why the controversial killings were legal.

Included in the so-called White Paper are details on the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen who intelligence officials have said joined Al-Qaeda and became the terrorist organization’s de facto propagandist.


The existence of the Justice Department’s White Paper has been no secret, and has been the subject of extensive debate for years. Parts of the memo were leaked before John Brennan was sworn in as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency in March of last year, with lawmakers staging a filibuster that delayed Brennan’s ceremony by 13 hours.


Savage, Shane, the Times’ legal team, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in an attempt to learn more about Awlaki’s death. The appeals court ruled in their favor, declaring that the Obama administration had undermined its claim that the document could not be made public because of national security concerns, because a number of public officials had spoken publicly about US drone activity.


“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost be virtue of public statements of public officials and official disclosure of the DOJ White Paper,” Circuit Judge Jon Newman wrote, as quoted by Reuters.


The decision went on to say that any claim that military plans, intelligence activity, or essential foreign relationships would be damaged is no longer valid.



The decision did not include any timeline about when the White Paper will actually be released. The Justice Department can still appeal for a ruling either from the full appeals court or the US Supreme Court.

Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Times that the decision is a clear “rebuff to the administration’s secrecy policy.”


Yet the 2nd Circuit was careful to note that the plaintiffs were not challenging the legality of the drone program with their FOIA request, only the secrecy surrounding it. Jameel Jaffer, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, was jubilant when speaking to the Times.

This is a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to use secrecy, and selective disclosure, as a means of manipulating public opinion about the targeted killing program,” he said. “The government can’t pretend that everything about its targeted killing program is a classified secret while senior officials selectively disclose information meant to paint the program in the most favorable light.”

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
kliguy38's picture

We don't need no stinkin' reason............

Tengri Temujin's picture

Can't wait for the news day when the first american will be droned to death by a missile on US soil for speeding lol

GetZeeGold's picture



A US judge overrules Eric Holder. Can they do that?


You don't want to go there buddy!

SoilMyselfRotten's picture

While you're at it, how about due process for American citizens before you kill them?

GetZeeGold's picture



Good luck with that....we're still trying to get rights for American cows.

Doubleguns's picture

Over ruling Eric Holder could result in your asparagus being poisioned. 

SafelyGraze's picture

"a three-judge 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a previous ruling ..."

dear judges:

avoid air travel

just sayin

Keyser's picture

Really, as if Holder at the DOJ will release any information on the extra-judicial murders of American citizens abroad... He will just attack the reporter's requests as rayciss... What a fucking clown... 

Chupacabra-322's picture

What about investigating the following Criminal activity?

The American People are also livid over the following:

Fast & Furious
Illegal Wars of Aggresion
IRS attack on political dissent
CIA running drugs then laundering the $ through the TBTFBanksters

Arming, funding & Traning through the Criminal State Dept. / CIA the same terror organizations they claim to protect us from

TSA grouping & the militarized Police State

NSA Sping
Drone assassination kill list of The American People
Patriot Act
Obama Care

GetZeeGold's picture



....and that's just the stuff the GOP is good with.

Chupacabra-322's picture

Had to down arrow you as they're all "in on the take."

GetZeeGold's picture


Perfectly understandable.


I haven't been illuminated yet.

Doubleguns's picture

Wait till a drone illuminates you with its lazer. Ummm it actually might be to late then. /s

y3maxx's picture


Coming soon...Death Payback vs Overseas, American CIA/Generals/Politicians, by Russia/China/India/Iran...the new good guys.

Chupacabra-322's picture

From your lips to God's ears.

Blues Traveler's picture

Exactly Chpbra-322!!!! Exactly, not this doesnt need to be exposed but this is the only thing the DOJ is going to comply with this in good faith??????

US media is public enemy #1

Dr. Engali's picture

"we're still trying to get rights for American cows."


Walmart people enjoy the same rights we have...... virtually none.

knukles's picture

Great movie, BTW

"Killer WalMart People from Outer Space"
    revenge of the trans-fat deprived.

knukles's picture

DoJ ignores ruling, remiding judge "We know where you live" 
Judge pleads the Running wiht Scissors and Nail Gun defense 

intric8's picture

who tf is this judge anyways, he doesnt stand a chance against the machinery. A gruesome end can be easily arranged for the poor chap. They'll toss him into the gears of a huge combine or cut his nuts off with a laplander, and then say it was suicide

666's picture

If it wasn't for Snowden, everything would still be business as usual and super top secret. Although there is still a very, very long way to go, there is now at least a tiny crack in the formerly impenetrable wall.

He da man!

Infinite QE's picture

How about investigating:

1. Monsatan for killing people slowly with GMO's.

2. Big pharma for killing people slowly with meds and vaccines.

This list could take all day. Over and out.

mccvilb's picture

The white paper will reveal it recommended hiring HFT programmers, eliminated thousands of drone operator positions with Xenon blade servers and reduced latency for due process and target execution to 1/10,000th of a second by moving the FISA court closer to the Pentagon./s

agstacks's picture

I heard on CNN that he was a domestic terrorist or something.  He was probably a bad guy. Good riddance.



TeamDepends's picture

The most transparent administration ever- by force.

disabledvet's picture

he said "rationale" not reason.

Being white is reason enough...let alone "Islamic" in some way.

"Rationale" connotes "documentation" and "legal arguments" pro and con with a signature. In this instance "that would be Marc Zuckerberg" et al as the entire University System collapses inside the USA. "Say hello to Your Last Picture Show" America. You all have been marked for total extermination. Railroad stocks are rockin' and rollin' and those Boxcars are MOVIN!

semperfidelis's picture

Waiting for a Russian judge to do the same on past massacres in Afghanistan and Chechnya :)

Dr. Engali's picture

Easier said than done when there is no rational for murder at will. Just do it.... Hey I think there is a commercial in there somewhere.

ghengis86's picture

Let me get this 'victory' straight: if the admin would have just kept their little yappers shut, their secret murder rationale rubber stamped by their secret court would have been kept secret by the not-so-secret 'public' courts?

Got it

knukles's picture

We have a Constitutional Scholar on Our Side.

There are at least 3 lies imbedded therein.  Can you find them all... or more?

NoDebt's picture

"We", "scholar" and "our".

"Constitutional" I understand.  That's the thing that "we" "scholar" and "our" are trying to get rid of.

knukles's picture

How about a bobblehead with the big afro and a small tricorner partiot hat....
Or a Fez with a skull and crosssbones...
Oh, I could just go on and on...

Tengri Temujin's picture

Banzai you gotta be on some kind of FED hit list dude.  Keep them coming.  If you need to hide out I am sure all of us here will offer you a place to hide.

Ariadne's picture

But Its not my fault! Hilary made me do it! I was just following orders!

cherry picker's picture

I suppose Adolph Obama won't be happy to hear this.

TideFighter's picture

Each Drone Team has an embedded psychiatrist. We should have the same for the Obamunist Administration. Those docs would be quite busy.

buzzsaw99's picture

i want to see the mental health records and meds for the psychos who fly those things

Budd aka Sidewinder's picture

Brown Skin - Check

Turban - Check

Lives on Sand - Check

He's a Target!

Is that the white paper?

firstdivision's picture

you left out the most important checks

Not a Banker - Check

Not related to Saudi Royal Family - Check

Not related to a Saudi wealthy family - Check

williambanzai7's picture

Holder will blow everyone in the room if it means he can get corn holed by a Goldman MD.

firstdivision's picture

Dear Judges,

better keep your eyes on the sky, for the Hellfire cometh for you.

Best Regards,

Obama, Biden, Bush, Rumsfield, et. al.


kill switch's picture

Look happy ZHERS when the NSA spies on everybody including 535 idiots in DC we have NO REPRESENTITIVE GOVERNMENT...They all have shit to ya think??

We will never see that paper.

Inthemix96's picture

Just got a text from the missus,

"Hello birthday boy, when you get home from work, there will be a nice hot bath waiting for you and after that I'm going to suck you dry in the bedroom".

She can fuck right off, It'll take her ages, I'll use a towel like I always do.


esum's picture

ok judge here is the rationale............... KILL TERRORISTS AND THOSE THAT INCITE AND SUPPORT THEM..... and any living thing within 30 meters be it man woman child dog cat mouse or cockroach.... the problem is Harry Reid thinks ranchers are TERRORISTS... ALONG WITH THE ENTIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ANY FREEDOM LOVING INDIVIDUALS STANDING IN HIS WAY... Obama/Holder thinks likewise ...