The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the Trump administration to obtain documents about the January raid in Yemen that ended with many civilians, and one Navy SEAL, dead.
President Donald Trump called the operation a "success" despite the fact that he authorized it "without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations," as Reuters wrote. Independent sources have disputed the military's claim that between four and 12 civilians were killed, with Human Rights Watch and several journalists stating that the death toll could be as high as 25, including nine children.
The ACLU said Monday it wanted records on the legal basis for the raid and the assessment of civilian deaths afterward. The group filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Departments of Defense, Justice, and State in March and asked a federal court on Monday to enforce it.
"We have seen that this White House cannot be trusted to give the public accurate information, which is especially critical when the president authorizes military action that kills civilians," said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project. "The Obama administration had a poor transparency record about lethal strikes in Yemen, but it at least put in place safeguards aimed at protecting civilians from harm."
The Trump administration reportedly exempted some regions of Yemen from those protections, the ACLU said. The group's FOIA request also calls for an explanation for this decision.
In February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing that anyone questioning the operation was doing a "disservice" to the life of Chief Ryan Owens, who was killed during the botched raid.
"The public has a right to know about any exceptions the Trump administration is making to civilian protection rules generally and what really happened with this tragic operation specifically," Shamsi said Monday. "The administration's explanations have little credibility, and the documents we seek are essential for public accountability when civilians are killed in the name of our national security.”