The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a Freedom of Information Act request be granted with regard to a memo which has been used to justify the assassination of American citizens by drone strikes on foreign soil.
While Congress made threats to obtain these documents, they never followed through.
The memo was released on Monday by the Justice Department after several months of pursuits in court by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union.
According to the Washington Post:
Important sections of the Justice Department’s legal analysis were stripped from the version of the document released to the public. Among the deleted portions were paragraphs that presumably explained why the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel determined that killing Awlaki in a drone strike would not violate the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees due process to U.S. citizens accused of crimes.
Still, the memo provides previously unknown details about the reasoning behind one of the most controversial counterterrorism operations carried out by the U.S. government since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
According to the memo, Awlaki’s alleged ties to al-Qaeda “brings him within the scope” of the use of military force under 2001 congressional authorization. However, keep in mind that the Department of Defense had Awlaki speak at the Pentagon just months after 9-11, according to the FBI.