Late Wednesday evening, the White House announced it had ordered the Justice Department to release to two Congressional intelligence committees the memos containing the legal justifications for drone strikes against U.S. citizens. The announcement comes two days after NBC News released a confidential memo that detailed similar information, and one day before the Senate confirmation hearing of Obama's nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, who is considered the chief architect of the administration's escalated use of drones. Before today, neither the White House nor the Justice Department had acknowledged the memos's existence.
"Today, as part of the president's ongoing commitment to consult with Congress on national security matters, the president directed the Department of Justice to provide the congressional Intelligence committees access to classified Office of Legal Counsel advice related to the subject of the Department of Justice White Paper," the official said.
The ACLU called the move "a small step in the right direction," though they noted the memo was not being shared with Armed Services Committees or the Judiciary Committees and that a redacted form of the memo should be available to the public. "Everyone has a right to know when the government believes it can kill Americans and others," said Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.
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