ACLU Wants to Know the Legal Basis for CIA Drone Strikes

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 2:46 pm

It’s a question that rarely gets asked: from where does the Obama administration locate the legal authority to launch missiles from the CIA’s unmanned drones into Pakistani (and, this week, Afghan) territory? The ACLU wants to know.

The civil liberties group today filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CIA and the Departments of State, Justice and Defense for documentation establishing the legal basis for the drone strikes. Drone strikes in Pakistan have risen substantially during the first year of the Obama administration.

Additionally, the civil liberties group wants to see the government’s estimates for how many civilians the drone program is responsible for killing. A recent New America Foundation report arguing that most drone critics overstate overstate civilian casualties still found that one in every three Pakistanis killed by the drones is a civilian, not a combatant.

From a just-released ACLU statement:

“The American public has a right to know whether the drone program is consistent with international law, and that all efforts are made to minimize the loss of innocent lives,” said Jonathan Manes, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project. “The Obama administration has reportedly expanded the drone program, but it has not explained publicly what the legal basis for the program is, what limitations it recognizes on the use of drones outside active theaters of war and what the civilian casualty toll has been thus far. We’re hopeful that the request we’ve filed today will encourage the Obama administration to disclose information about the basis, scope and implementation of the program.”

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49 Comments

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mikefromArlington
Comment posted January 13, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

ACLU might do some good but its when they go after stuff like this….makes me wonder whos side they are on.

Between this stuff and going after harmless displays of Christian turns me off of this org.


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fjrl
Comment posted January 14, 2010 @ 4:31 am

Does the Commander-in-Chief of our esteemed Armed Forces have to give a reason for expanding the drone program? I certainly hope not. Why doesn't the ACLU ask for a report from the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as to what legal precedent they have for their barbaric, murderous acts committed (and continuously committed) on our soil and abroad. Doesn't the “A” in ACLU stand for American?


bmichaelt
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 1:34 am

stop funding these dumb f%#@ing ass holes antiamericans an save millions


bmichaelt
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 1:40 am

they do it too save american lives u stupid ass hole but u dont care about americans only about everybodyelse


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Pingback posted January 15, 2010 @ 1:58 am

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billybobdobbs
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 2:23 am

It will be interesting to see how the twist international law to justify this. And of course there is no question that terrorist attacks committed in the US are illegal – no one is challenging that. The ACLU is asking whether the US is acting the same way in its actions abroad. And the answer in international law is that what the US is doing is worse than terrorism – its the war crime of aggression. In International Law aggression is more serious than terrorism because it has the backing of a state. In this case the most powerful state that has so far killed a magnitudes more in its quest for revenge than died on 9/11.


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[...] think I have ever heard anyone ask where the CIA or the president get the authority for them. Now, reports Spencer Ackerman, the ACLU is asking: “The American public has a right to know whether the drone program is [...]


mojo
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

It's in the second volume of “International Laws And Stuff Jefferson Said”, I believe. Under the heading “You Punks Can't Stop Us, HAHAHA”


fleiter69
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

Hope these traitorous bastards are on the next plane that gets bombed.


mikeh76
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

I think the last time questions like this were asked Bin Laden and his merry band were organizing and training for 9-11.


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Pingback posted January 15, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

[...] aren’t they the American Civil Liberties Union? Why do they care about Pakistani civilians? And I believe a legal basis is that we are at war and in war you use the weapons at your disposal, [...]


stephana
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

Hey assmaggots at the aclu. We are at war. nugh said.


punditpawn
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

Too easy. There's a new legal mantra established after 9/11 by GWB. Its called, “You're with us or against us.” Its the first time in History this country authorized preemptive, non-retaliatory strikes to prevent terrorism with a simple, spoken sentence.


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TheLastBrainLeft
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 4:04 pm

I want to know what legal basis the ACLU has for asking such a question. Are they not a civil rights advocacy group? What American is having his/her civil rights violated with these drone attacks?

Oh, wait. The ACLU is a Communist, anti-American organization. Why are they all not in prison?


georgelee
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

“American” Civil Liberties…and now it is out to see what is going on in Pakistan? The ACLU is just a political party nothing more.


The Yell
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

The President can wage war on anybody for 70 days before he must obtain Congressional approval under the War Powers Act.
During the Kosovo air war a federal court ruled that if Congress refuses to declare the president in violation of the War Powers Act then the courts are not going to enforce it.
If the ACLU wants to sue the US govt for aggression in the World Court then Pelosi and Reid are just as liable as Barack Obama, given our delegation of powers.


orbearider66
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

I hate the ACLU almost as much as I hate the Unions.


Gregor
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

The ACLU spends every minute of every day trying to think of ways to defeat the United States. No country has done more damage to us than this group of commie scum.


OmarBradley
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 5:10 pm

As General Patton said, “There is but one international law: the best army!”


mitch_Pawl
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

ACLU – these abbreviations stand for what???

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTY UNION?????

NOT Pakistan Civil Liberty Union

NOT Afghan Civil Liberty Union

NOT Iraq Civil Liberty Union

NOT Iran Civil Liberty Union

Since that is the case, They should stay the hell out of this case and mind their own business. I am sick and tired of these hack groups trying to put their nose where they should not be. If they want to help them, fricken move over there and see how long they live. I would give any lawyer that moves over to Afghanistan 3 days before they are killed.

Wait, maybe we should round them all up and sent them there.


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PLFLash
Comment posted January 15, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

The beautiful thing is that Obama/Holder are now going to have to rely on and defend the same legal architecture that was developed by George Bush and Dick Cheney; Nice!


Vince Emmer
Comment posted January 20, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

We all know the the ACLU gets a little silly from time to time.

Now it's antics will advance Al Qaeda's cause.

It's hard to think of the ACLU as pro-American – but then, I wouldn't guess its members think of the themselves that way.


WhatConstitution
Comment posted January 24, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

The fact that the ACLU ( Amerikan Communist Lawyers Union ) wants it probed tells me the drone attacks are not only legal, but are having a devistating effect on the ACLU comrads and therefore must be continued.

The ACLU should be put on trial for sedition and treason!


mattatbc
Comment posted February 6, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

Sorry, guys. The US is (at least in theory) governed by a constitution which limits and separates the powers of the three branches of our government. The Supreme Court has found repeatedly (in connection with cases brought before it concerned prisoners at Guantanamo, that, even in time of war, the government's power remains limited and American citizens continue to enjoy constitutional protections. The US government and the people that make up the government are also bound by various international treaties on human rights and the law of war. Finally, much of the information sought by the ACLU concerns activities in Pakistan and Yemen, countries with which we are not at war.

We do not make ourselves safer by ignoring the values on which our democracy is built. In fact, when we allow violations of our law and values, we do the terrorists work for them.


mattatbc
Comment posted February 6, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

Sorry, guys. The US is (at least in theory) governed by a constitution which limits and separates the powers of the three branches of our government. The Supreme Court has found repeatedly (in connection with cases brought before it concerned prisoners at Guantanamo, that, even in time of war, the government's power remains limited and American citizens continue to enjoy constitutional protections. The US government and the people that make up the government are also bound by various international treaties on human rights and the law of war. Finally, much of the information sought by the ACLU concerns activities in Pakistan and Yemen, countries with which we are not at war.

We do not make ourselves safer by ignoring the values on which our democracy is built. In fact, when we allow violations of our law and values, we do the terrorists work for them.


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Bob
Comment posted March 18, 2010 @ 2:29 am

Sue the US in World Court? As if it has any jurisdiction, expertise or authority to determine the legality of US Foreign policy. The appeal to international law by the ACLU is absolutely pathetic. Obama has the authority to set US foreign policy and the “World Court”? or any other legal body that has no authority over the US that doesn't like it can cram it.


Bob
Comment posted March 18, 2010 @ 2:31 am

Non-retaliatory? I guess you were living in a cave on 9/11. And the vote by Congress to give Bush the authority to act in Afghanistan and Iraq is more than just a “simple, spoken sentence”.


Bob
Comment posted March 18, 2010 @ 2:33 am

Quest for revenge? Yeah, you are so right. It has absolutely nothing to do with eliminating murderous terrorists who are hell bent on destroying us, does it? Man, you are an idiot.


punditpawn
Comment posted March 18, 2010 @ 2:41 am

Bush authorized preemption, it had never been done before. They waited for Pearl Harbor even though they knew something nasty was coming, but would not act until attacked. Bush completely tossed that legacy and created a self-defense policy that was formed around common sense, though he did try to pacify the loons by wasting time at the UN while France bought time for Sadaam to get his weapons out of the country.


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We do not make ourselves safer by ignoring the values on which our democracy is built. In fact, when we allow violations of our law and values, we do the terrorists work for them.


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We do not make ourselves safer by ignoring the values on which our democracy is built. In fact, when we allow violations of our law and values, we do the terrorists work for them.


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Comment posted September 16, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

Why doesn't the ACLU ask for a report from the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as to what legal precedent they have for their barbaric, murderous acts committed (and continuously committed) on our soil and abroad. Doesn't the “A” in ACLU stand for American?


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