Appeals Court Rejects CIA Secrecy on Drones

A federal appeals court has just ruled that the CIA cannot continue to “neither confirm nor deny” the existence of the drone war, in a court case prompted by a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union.

ACLU press statement:

“This is an important victory. It requires the government to retire the absurd claim that the CIA’s interest in the targeted killing program is a secret, and it will make it more difficult for the government to deflect questions about the program’s scope and legal basis,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, who argued the case before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Appeals Court in September. “It also means that the CIA will have to explain what records it is withholding, and on what grounds it is withholding them.”

The ACLU’s FOIA request, filed in January 2010, seeks to learn when, where, and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how and whether the U.S. ensures compliance with international law restricting extrajudicial killings. In September 2011, the district court granted the government’s request to dismiss the case, accepting the CIA’s argument that it could not release any documents because even acknowledging the existence of the program would harm national security. The ACLU filed its appeal brief in the case exactly one year ago, and today the appeals court reversed the lower court’s ruling in a 3-0 vote.

“We hope that this ruling will encourage the Obama administration to fundamentally reconsider the secrecy surrounding the targeted killing program,” Jaffer said. “The program has already been responsible for the deaths of more than 4,000 people in an unknown number of countries. The public surely has a right to know who the government is killing, and why, and in which countries, and on whose orders. The Obama administration, which has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of government transparency, should give the public the information it needs in order to fully evaluate the wisdom and lawfulness of the government’s policies.”

You can read the unanimous 19-page decision here. The crux of the opinion: “It is implausible that the CIA does not possess a single document on the subject of drone strikes.”

6 thoughts on “Appeals Court Rejects CIA Secrecy on Drones”

  1. Domestic drone usage is ill-conceived, elitist, and end-runs our inherent Constitutional protections.

    Here are two (2), very well-produced, videos that anchor my points:

    Emmy Award-winning newscaster Shad Olson’s ‘The Great Drone Debate’, featuring US Senator John Thune:

    Here’s a mind-blowing, well-done animated short that really captures our collective angst that if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then domestic drones are a superhighway to an Orwellian panoptic gulag.

    For national security purposes, Americans are already subject to warrantless wiretaps of calls and emails, the warrantless GPS “tagging” of their vehicles, the domestic use of Predators or other spy-in-the-sky drones, and the Department of Homeland Security’s monitoring of all our behavior through “data fusion centers.”

    America’s promise has always been the power of the many to rule, instead of the one. Ungoverned drone usage, particularly domestically, gives power to the one. 

    1. Sam Kephart…………. Where have you been…??? Where ever it was.. Welcome aboard and tell US more of your thinking…. We need more like you and also more especially unanimous decisions of this type too….

  2. the best way to subvert the American people is a little at a time. this is just one TINY step in the socialization of the American population. it started when we allowed the government to addict to people to government money and hand outs, ie. social security, medicare and welfare. it has continued as the government slowly removes our 2nd amendment right, try and buy a fully automatic rifle, or any gun in Chicago. the point of the second amendment is so the people never again had to fear the government, but the government fear the people. now our every move can be tracked our internet habits analized all in the name of "security". its only a small step until the führer turns those armed drones on the American people.

  3. can we say covert Communism lol its funny when one tryies to tell what may or may not happen next (government) we created this and yes that means you and me.

  4. Its seems the Supreme Court would be more supportive of drones killing people on the whim of the executive just so long as the policy is "transparent." As long as the tyranny is focused and transparent, the Supreme Court will support it.

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