June 23, 2014, New York – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) released the following statement by Senior Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei in response to the release of the Department of Justice memo outlining the Obama administration’s legal justification for the drone killing of U.S. citizen Anwar Al-Aulaqi. The Second Circuit released the memo in Freedom of Information Act lawsuits brought by New York Times reporters and the ACLU. Ms. Kebriaei was CCR’s lead counsel on two lawsuits with the ACLU challenging the killing of Al-Aulaqi, Al-Aulaqi v. Obama and Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta.
The DOJ memo confirms that the government’s drone killing program is built on gross distortions of law. This forced transparency comes years late, long after the memo was drafted and used to justify the premeditated killing of a U.S. citizen without trial and far from any battlefield. Although the American public may now finally start having a more complete debate about this program, the Obama administration’s stonewalling has delayed this conversation for far too long. Since 2009, U.S. drone strikes may have killed more than 4,000 people – including children – and wounded many more outside of its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While today the U.S., the U.K., and Israel are the only countries known to have used killer drones, experts say that within ten years virtually every country on Earth will be able to build or acquire drones capable of firing missiles. The United States loosening and redefining international rules governing the use of force and war is ultimately not going to make anyone any safer.