Constitutional Law

White House agrees to provide classified drone-strike memo to some lawmakers


On the eve of a confirmation hearing for President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, the White House has agreed to allow some federal lawmakers to see a classified memo authorizing deadly international drone strikes on civilians.

Although prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel for the Department of Justice, the memo is considered a policy paper rather than an official legal document, reports CNN. Fox News, the New York Times (reg. req.) and Reuters also have stories.

Another New York Times (reg. req.) article published before President Obama’s announcement that he would authorize the DOJ to release the memo to members of congressional intelligence committees discusses the role of John O. Brennan in overseeing drone attacks by the military and the CIA.

Currently serving as White House counterterrorism adviser, Brennan is Obama’s nominee to head the CIA. He faces a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing Thursday, as an Associated Press article details.

Brennan has “probably had more power and influence than anyone in a comparable position in the last 20 years,” counterrorism expert Daniel Benjamin told the Times. “He’s had enormous sway over the intelligence community. He’s had a profound impact on how the military does counterterrorism.”

Additional and related coverage:

ABA Journal: “Uneasy Targets: How Justifying the Killing of Terrorists Has Become a Major Policy Debate”

ABA Journal: “Targeted Killing Is Lawful If Conducted in Accordance with the Rule of Law”

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