Obama Orders Classified OLC Memo Released to Congressional Intelligence Committees

by Deborah Pearlstein

According to NPR:

President Obama directed the Justice Department late Wednesday to give Congress access to classified information that details the rationale for targeted strikes against U.S. citizens believed to have links to al-Qaida. NPR’s Carrie Johnson is reporting on the story for our Newscast Unit. She says the decision comes after Senators threatened to hold up nominees for the CIA and Pentagon. Here’s more from her report:

“An administration official says the president personally made the decision to give lawmakers on the house and Senate intelligence committees a chance to review the memo. The classified document provides a legal justification for killing U.S. citizens who have become senior operatives in al-Qaida. A U.S. drone killed radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen in Yemen in September 2011. Senators said they wanted to see the basis for that action before they would approve a new CIA director. The administration official says the release is extraordinary and does not set a precedent.”

The decision to grant access to lawmakers comes a day before John Brennan, Obama’s pick to head the CIA, faces the Senate Intelligence Committee for his confirmation hearing.

Note that if the full memo is still classified, and no redacted version is available, it may yet be some time before the memo sees the light of day. Nonetheless, this is surely a step in the right direction.

http://opiniojuris.org/2013/02/06/obama-orders-classified-olc-memo-released-to-congressional-intelligence-committees/

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