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Obama Administration Pushes for More Secrecy Over Drone Memo

With David Barron now confirmed as federal judge, administration says it wants further redactions of document.

Anwar al-Awlaki, whose death without due process was given legal justification in a memo co-authored by federal judge David Barron. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons by Muhammad ud-Deen and retouched by Greg A L)

The Obama administration this week is pushing for further censorship of the controversial memo that authorized the drone killing of a U.S. citizen.

The Senate last week confirmed David Barron, who co-authored that memo while at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, for U.S. Circuit Judge for the First Circuit.  His confirmation came after the administration said it would release to senators, as ordered by a federal appeals court, a redacted version of the document, which provided the legal justification for the targeted assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

In a court filing on Tuesday, however, the government requested redactions of the document beyond those approved by the federal appeals court.

The government justified the censorship request by saying that some of what was allowed to be disclosed by the previous court decision may have been a "mistake."

"Some of the information appears to have been ordered disclosed based on inadvertence or mistake, or is subject to distinct exemption claims or other legal protections that have never been judicially considered," the New York Times reports Sarah Normand, an assistant United States attorney, as writing in the filing.

The Times adds that on Wednesday the court denied the Justice Department's request to keep its request for further redactions secret.


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