Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is leading a small group of House Democrats in calling on President Barack Obama to release information regarding the Administration’s use of drone strikes.
In a letter sent Monday, Lee said a leaked Department of Justice memo showed an “increasing devolution of accountability, transparency, and Constitutional protections in U.S. counterterrorism operations.” The 16-page memo provided an outline of the Obama’s administration legal justification of targeted drone strikes against U.S. citizens.
The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. John Conyers (MI), Keith Ellison (MN), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Donna Edwards (MD), Mike Honda (CA), Rush Holt (NJ), and James McGovern (MA).
The House Democrats were particularly concerned that the memo appeared to have no defined geographic boundaries, did not identify officials with the authority to approve so-called “kill-lists,” provided a vague definition of feasible, and used a broad definition of “imminent threat.”
“The executive branch’s claim of authority to deprive citizens of life, and to do so without explaining the legal bases for doing so, sets a dangerous precedent and is a model of behavior that the United States would not want other nations to emulate,” the letter stated.
“Therefore, we ask that you release, in an unclassified form, the full legal basis of executive branch claims in the areas which are the subject of this letter. The Executive’s claims of authority need to be fully articulated to the whole Congress and the American people.”
The issue of drone strikes gained national attention last week after Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky held a 13-hour filibuster of the nomination of John Brennan as the next CIA director.