As the New York Times reports, a federal appeals panel in Manhattan under Judge Jon O. Newman has yesterday reversed a Federal District Court decision of January 2013, waiving the U.S. government’s right to keep secret classified portions of a memo which had justified lawfulness of
assassination targeted killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone attack in Yemen in 2010. The lower court had ruled its decision only weeks before D.O.J. officials including Attorney General Eric E. Holder had made public statements on a then leaked, to NBC, White Paper which should justify the killing of al-Awlaki and, apparently incidentally, also American citizen Samir Khan. The NYT writes,
“‘Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had,’ Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, ‘has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the D.O.J. White Paper.’
“‘Judge Newman wrote that even if the public statements by administration officials, before and after Judge [of the Federal District Court] McMahon’s opinion was issued, were not themselves ‘sufficiently detailed to establish waiver of the secrecy of the legal analysis,’ they established the ‘context in which the most revealing document,’ the so-called white paper, ‘should be evaluated.’”
According to the NYT, Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, added:
“This is a resounding rejection of the government’s effort to use secrecy, and selective disclosure, as a means of manipulating public opinion about the targeted killing program. The government can’t pretend that everything about its targeted killing program is a classified secret while senior officials selectively disclose information meant to paint the program in the most favorable light.”
Given its relentless war on whistle-blowers, the Obama administration’s frequent friendly leaks with only one purpose: to manipulate public opinion, are quite embarrassing. Selective disclosure of classified information will soon backfire as well.22 April 2014 @ 11:01 am. Last modified April 22, 2014.