In an effort to help along Senate confirmation of David Barron to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, the Obama Administration says it will release a memo the nominee wrote which provided the Justice Department justification for using drone strikes against U.S. citizens.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led opposition of Barron’s confirmation, arguing that his involvement in drone assassinations of Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan – both U.S. citizens living in Yemen— should be further reviewed.
The American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times had filed Freedom of Information suits for the memo, leading a judge to order the Obama Administration to turn over a redacted version. The White House was considering repealing the ruling to prevent the document from being released.
Earlier this month, Paul said that he will continue to block Barron’s nomination until the DOJ releases memos related to the drone strikes. In response, the White House made an underacted version of the memo available to Senators.
On Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that Administration officials have also decided not to appeal the earlier court ruling calling for the memo to be released with redactions:
Until now, the administration has fought in court to keep the writings from public view. But administration officials said that Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. decided this week not appeal an April 21 ruling requiring disclosure by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York and that Attorney General Eric Holder concurred with his opinion.
The release could take some time, since the redactions are subject to court approval. And the administration also is insisting that a classified ruling on the case also be redacted to protect information classified for national security, but not the legal reasoning, one of the officials said.
Paul is expected to take to the Senate floor Wednesday to contest Barron’s nomination.
“I’ve read the Barron memos concerning the legal justification for killing an American citizen overseas without a trial or legal representation,” Paul wrote in a Tuesday opinion piece for the Boston Herald. The lawmaker went on to note that the memo in question provides “no valid precedent for the killing of an American citizen not engaged in combat.”
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that he isn’t very worried about another Paul filibuster following recent White House decisions about the documents.
“Once everything was explained,” he said. “Most everyone in our caucus is satisfied.”