The Obama administration acted lawfully in refusing to disclose information about its targeted killings of terrorism suspects, including the 2011 drone strikes that killed three U.S. citizens in Yemen, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
But the judge also described a “veritable Catch-22” of security rules that allow the executive branch to declare legal “actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”
“The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me,” Judge Colleen McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote in her ruling.
The case combined separate challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times to the administration’s refusal to release documents about targeted killings under the Freedom of Information Act.
“It’s a disappointing decision, but I think it’s important that the judge spent so much space discussing the substantive concerns with the authority the government has claimed,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU.