President Obama finally promised to release legal memos on the Targeted Killing program to members of congressional intelligence committees on February 6, 2013, after over 21 formal requests from legislators.
But members of these committees have so far only been given limited access to 4 memos and the most important, including those addressing the government’s criteria for marking a ‘suspected terrorist’ for death or listing the countries in which we are conducting strikes, remain secret.
These memos are too important and the President must be held to his promise; that’s why we started ReleaseTheMemos.com: a new website tracking the number of days since the President promised to give all memos to Congress alongside our petition demanding their full and immediate release. The website also features an interactive timeline and a section devoted to common questions about the Targeted Killing program.
We are calling on the President to first fulfill his obligations to these committees charged with overseeing CIA operations like Targeted Killings. Once they have been released to Congress, the next step is to push those representatives and the administration for the memos’ full public release. Several members of these committees, including Senator Ron Wyden and Rep. Barbara Lee, agree that the memos should be made public, so we already have allies to work with once the memos are released.
These covert assassinations against ‘suspected terrorists’ kill thousands of innocent men, women and children each year, in countries with which the US isn’t even at war. Since 2004, there have been an estimated 365 Targeted Killing strikes in Pakistan — 313 (86%) of which took place after President Obama took office. However, the government seems to count all military-aged men killed in a strike as combatants unless there is specific evidence proving their innocence after their death, so the numbers may be misleading.
Without oversight, it’s impossible to know if these killings are lawful, for wrongful victims and their families to seek justice, or for a targeted individual to appeal or even know about their pending execution. It’s time the Obama administration shed light on this program so there may be a fully informed public debate.
We won’t stop fighting until all 11 of these critical memos on the Targeted Killing program are made fully public, and we hope you’ll share ReleaseTheMemos.com to help us keep the public’s eye on the release of these memos.