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ACLU sues to force release of drone attack records
The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court Wednesday to force the Obama administration to release legal and intelligence records related to the killing of three U.S. citizens in drone attacks in Yemen last year.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charged the Justice and Defense departments and the CIA with illegally failing to respond to requests made in October under the Freedom of Information Act. It cited public comments made by President Obama, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and other officials in arguing that the government cannot credibly claim a secrecy defense.
“The government’s self-serving attitude toward transparency and disclosure is unacceptable,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Officials cannot be allowed to release bits of information about the targeted killing program when they think it will bolster their position, but refuse even to confirm [its] existence” when asked for information “in the service of real transparency and accountability.”
In addition to statements by Obama and Panetta, the lawsuit notes that “media reports about the targeted killing program routinely quote anonymous government officials describing details of the program.”
With no independent outside access to Pakistan’s tribal zones, the disconnect is near-absolute between those who charge the administration with unjustified killings and those in the administration who deny the allegations. On Dec. 2, a Pakistani lawyer backed by the British-based charity Reprieve notified Munter of plans to file murder charges in the deaths of Tariq Aziz, 16, and his cousin Waheed Rehman, 12, allegedly killed in an Oct. 31 drone strike on a vehicle in their home region of North Waziristan. According to Reprieve, its representatives had met with Tariq just days earlier in Islamabad to give him a camera to document drone deaths.