'Drone Memo' Author Hurtles to Judgeship
(CN) - The author of a soon-to-be-made-public memo that provides the legal justification for a secret drone assassination of a U.S. citizen faces a confirmation vote for a federal judgeship today.
The U.S. Senate had nominated David Barron by a 52-43 vote on Wednesday to a seat on the 1st Circuit in Boston, just hours after the Justice Department announced that it would not appeal orders to disclose a drone memo of which Barron is the author.
Barron, a Harvard Law professor, wrote the memo while working for the Justice Department in the early days of the Obama administration.
It concerns the Sept. 30, 2011, bombing in Yemen by the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command of New Mexico-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and another U.S. citizen, al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan.
A separate strike killed al-Awlaki's U.S. citizen son, 16-year-old Abdulrahman, weeks later.
Last month, the 2nd Circuit unanimously ruled that the Justice Department must release the memo, finding that "whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the DOJ White Paper."
The leak of the "white paper" outlined the government's targeted-killing program, which has been acknowledged by President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and former military legal officer Jeh Johnson.
An official told the Washington Post that the memo will probably be released in a "matter of weeks."
The 2nd Circuit approved a redacted version of the memo in April, but the government may return to court to request additional redactions on national security grounds.