Release of Targeted Killing Memo a Welcome Step Toward Transparency

Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First welcomes  today’s announcement by the Obama Administration that it will comply with a federal appeals court ruling and publicly release the legal justification for killing a U.S. citizen overseas, specifically the memo providing legal analysis that underpinned the decision to target Anwar al-Awlaki. The organization notes that the memo’s release will be a positive step toward transparency of the targeted killing program, but that the administration must be more forthcoming with information regarding who it targets.

“This memo is  one piece of a large  puzzle,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “Targeted killing of anyone should be subject to clear and public criteria in line with U.S. and international law.”

Human Rights First has called on the Obama Administration to explain how it justifies targeting any individuals who do not pose an actual imminent threat and are not members of armed groups engaged in an armed conflict with the United States or civilians directly participating in hostilities. The administration should also make public measures in place for agencies engaged in targeted killing to protect civilians, and to conduct post-strike casualty assessments, investigations, and compensation. Human Rights First has urged the Obama Administration to disclose information about the targeted killing program so Americans and others around the world know the government is acting within the law and exercising reasonable judgment. The ability to review and debate whom we are targeting and why is necessary for adherence to the rule of law, and for the program to have legitimacy among Americans and all those who must be our partners in the struggle against terrorism.

“The administration made the right decision in not fighting the court ruling,” said Eviatar. “In order to make a fair assessment about the drone program, the American people need to know who is being killed in our name.”


Published on May 20, 2014


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