Here is the background from Reuters. I’ll offer more details once the administration’s announcement is available to me.
(H/T David Dayen of FDL.)
UPDATE: More background on the ACLU’s case. Still no word on the administration’s promised announcement. Here’s a paragraph from the ACLU’s FOIA hearing description:
In response to the ACLU’s FOIA request, the government refused to confirm or deny whether it has any records about the CIA’s targeted killing program or about a Justice Department memo that provided legal justification for targeting and killing Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico. Yet the government has the chutzpah to sing the praises of the targeted killing program when it thinks doing so will advance its agenda, while insisting that it can’t talk about the program in front of a federal judge. To be clear, our complaint is not that the government is disclosing information to the press. Indeed, we wish it would disclose more. Our complaint is simply that the government should not be permitted to declare in court that discussing a program would jeopardize national security when it has disclosed the same program to the public.
The Obama administration believes that executive branch reviews of evidence against suspected al-Qaeda leaders before they are targeted for killing meet the constitution’s “due process” requirement and that American citizenship alone doesn’t protect individuals from being killed, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech Monday.
“Due process and judicial process are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security,” Holder said. “The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”
Broadly outlining the guidelines the Obama administration has used to conduct lethal drone stikes overseas, Holder said the U.S. government could legally target a senior operational al Qaeda leader who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans if the individual (1) posed an imminent threat of violence; (2) could not feasibly be captured; and (3) if the operation was conducted in line with war principles.
Such a use of lethal force against that type of individual, Holder said, wouldn’t violate the executive order banning assassinations or criminal statues because such an act would be in “self defense.” In remarks delivered at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, Holder also said that targeted killings are not “assassinations,” adding that the “use of that loaded term is misplaced” because assassinations are “unlawful killings” while targeted strikes are conducted lawfully.
What a large pile of steaming bullshit! To the best of my knowledge, the Constitution’s due process provisions have NEVER been interpreted in that way. To call this “self-serving” would be to do an injustice to the local Chinese buffet. I’ll have more to say about this in a later post.