The Congressional Progressive Caucus took shots at the administration on Monday after the release of a redacted version of a secret 2010 Justice Department memo that justified the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and al Qaeda leader.
While the leaders of the 69-member caucus applauded the release — ordered by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals — they said it was a "far cry" from transparency. To drive the point home, the caucus released a tweet with much of the text redacted.
"It’s time to end the secrecy surrounding our drone policies, and I applaud the administration’s move to release this memo. It’s a far cry from outright transparency, but it is a good first step," co-chairman and Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said in a statement.
The first 11 pages of the 41-page document were redacted. The Justice Department's justification for a CIA strike of al-Awlaki was also heavily redacted.
In the memo, the department concluded that al-Awlaki's U.S. citizenship did not impose "constitutional limitations that would preclude the contemplated lethal action under the facts represented to us by [the Department of Defense], the CIA, and the Intelligence Community."
"The release of this secret memo is a victory for transparency. But more must be done to inform the public and have accountable policies," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), another co-chairman.
“Congress must repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has allowed endless war with little congressional debate, input or oversight," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said, citing a key justification the Justice Department used to explain why the strike was legal.
Even members of the Senate who had the opportunity to read the classified memo last month said further questions remain about the United States' ability to carry out strikes on its own citizens.
"How much evidence does the president need to determine that a particular American is a legitimate target for military action?" Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenBiden comments add momentum to spending bill's climate measures These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-Ore.) asked. "Or, can the president strike an American anywhere in the world? What does it mean to say that capturing an American must be ‘infeasible’? And exactly what other limits and boundaries apply to this authority?"
Senators were given access to the memo to appease critics of the nomination of former Justice Department lawyer David Barron, who authored the memo and was facing nomination to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.