The federal government is not required to provide the legal rationale behind its targeted killings of American citizens with drones, according to a district court opinion.
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon of New York, ruling in lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times, said she was caught in a “paradoxical situation” (.pdf) of allowing the administration to claim it was legal to kill enemies outside traditional combat zones while keeping the legal rational secret.
The opinion comes months after 26 members of Congress asked Obama, in a letter, to consider the consequences of drone killing and to explain the necessity of the program. The use of drones to shoot missiles from afar at vehicles and buildings that the nation’s intelligence agencies believe are being used by suspected terrorists began under the George W. Bush administration and was widened by the Obama administration to allow the targeting of American citizens. Drone strikes by the Pentagon and the CIA have sparked backlashes from foreign governments and populations, as the strikes often kill civilians, including women and children.