For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

ACLU in Appeals Court TUESDAY Challenging Drone Program Secrecy


The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan will hear oral arguments in lawsuits brought by  the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times seeking Justice Department legal memos explaining U.S. targeted killing operations, including the justification for drone strikes that killed three Americans.

In June 2014, as the result of a previous appeal in the case, the court released a July 2010 memo from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel authorizing the killing of a U.S. citizen in Yemen. Soon after that, the government released a February 2010 OLC memo and a May 2011 white paper summarizing the government’s reasoning.  But much of these documents – including sections containing legal analysis and factual background – was redacted.

In this second appeal to the Second Circuit, the appeals court is considering the government’s refusal to release eight OLC memos that have been withheld in their entirety. The argument will also cover whether the government’s redactions of the February 2010 OLC memo were excessive.

U.S. citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi was killed by a U.S. drone strike in September 2011; that attack also killed U.S. citizen Sameer Khan. Two weeks later, another U.S. drone strike killed al-Aulaqi’s 16-year old son Abdulrahman, also an American.

The ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit seeks documents related to the legal and factual bases for the government’s killing of the three Americans. The New York Times submitted overlapping FOIA requests, and the two resulting lawsuits were consolidated.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer, New York Times Associate General Counsel David McCraw, and Justice Department attorneys will appear before Judges Jon O. Newman, José A. Cabranes, and Rosemary S. Pooler.

Tuesday, June 23, 2:30 p.m.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse
Courtroom 1703
40 Foley Square
New York

More information and all case documents are at:


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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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