Power Wars Blog by Charlie Savage

A secret (for now) appeals court ruling in our targeted killing FOIA lawsuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has issued what appears to be a significant ruling in the ongoing NYT/ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for legal memos related to targeted killings — but we can’t see it yet. The court has made certain redactions in its opinion, and the government now has 30 days to appeal whether additional parts should be withheld from public view.

This is the same case that previously dragged into the light the February 2010 and July 2010 Office of Legal Counsel memos about killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S. citizen and radical Muslim cleric accused of helping orchestrate the Christmas 2009 underwear bombing attack by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and whom the U.S. killed in a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011. Litigation has continued over other legal memos about targeted killing operations more generally.

We’ll find out later this year what is going on.

UPDATE Oct. 23, 2015: A reader points out that, per the now-unsealed transcript of ex parte oral arguments in July, it may be that the dispute is over the release of (only) two and a half pages of a 2002 DOJ Office of Legal Counsel memo on targeted killings, although there was some sealed back-and-forth after that so maybe something more is involved.