Yesterday, President Obama yielded to congressional demands that he release the OLC memo detailing his administration’s legal justification for the targeted killing of US citizens who they suspect are senior terrorists. This was document provided the legal basis on which the administration in 2011 targeted and killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, currently the most dangerous of the various al Qaeda franchises.
While his administration had previously not been willing to even admit that such a memo existed, he has agreed to share the memo with the House and Senate intelligence committees. This was likely a move to temper opposition to the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of Central Intelligence.
Brennan has been a central figure in the Obama administration’s drone program, from being the first official to publicly acknowledge its existence to direct involvement in its administration. While a strong supporter of the drone program, he has also stated that he “would not be the director of a CIA that carries out missions that should be carried out by the U.S. military.”
Paul Taylor, Senior Research Fellow
Center for Policy & Research