The ACLU has filed a suit asking a federal court to force the federal government to reveal information about the use of predator drones against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The ACLU is attempting to use the Freedom of Information Act to reveal, and thereby thwart, an effective weapon in the war against terrorists.
Some of the facts for this article, but none of the legal conclusions, come from an announcement by the ACLU that it has filed suit asking a court to order the federal government to provide certain information about America's use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan to locate, identify and kill terrorists. The targets are people whose efforts include prior and future bombing attacks on American soldiers, and civilian men, women and children in those and other nations. The source, below, is the Stop the ACLU website. The same press release also appears on the website of the ACLU itself.
This sounds too insane to be true. But here is what the ACLU said in a press release about its suit:[# More #] "The lawsuit asks for information on when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, the number and rate of civilian casualties and other basic information essential for assessing the wisdom and legality of using armed drones to conduct targeted killings."
The ACLU continued: "The government's use of drones to conduct targeted killings raises complicated questions — not only legal questions, but policy and moral questions as well," said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project. "These kinds of questions ought to be discussed and debated publicly, not resolved secretly behind closed doors. While the Obama administration may legitimately withhold intelligence information as well as sensitive information about military strategy, it should disclose basic information about the scope of the drone program, the legal basis for the program and the civilian casualties that have resulted from the program."
Let us put this story in the context of war. During WW II, the U.S. broke the naval communications code of the Japanese navy. They were able to find out when Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor, would be making a position transfer by air from one city to another. The U.S. Air Force put extra fuel tanks on some fighter planes so they could operate far beyond the front lines, and beyond the known range of those fighters,
Those pilots managed to find and shoot down the Admiral's plane. That was every bit the technological equivalent in WW II of what our Air Force drones are accomplishing today. The ACLU, which existed during WW II, did not have the stupidity, or the chutzpah, to attempt to use U.S. courts to force out into public view the background of any planned U.S. military actions, including the successful assassination of Admiral Yamamoto. But, that is fundamentally what the ACLU is doing now.
Broader than that, the ACLU demands information on the deaths of civilians and the rate of those deaths. Would it have been legally justified for the ACLU during WW II, to demand and publicize the civilian death rates of raids on Berlin and Tokyo? (Drones happen to be much more targeted and accurate than any weapons we had during WW II, other than a sniper rifle.)
Do not be distracted by any argument that we "do not have a declaration of war today," The Patriot Act, passed days after the attacks on 9/11, contained almost word for word the same authority to cross international borders to use military force against terrorists as Congress gave to President Jefferson in 1805 to go after the Barbary Pirates.
The issue of lawyers who support the enemy has arisen this also week concerning the prisoners at Gitmo, as a disk has been discovered in the hands of one of the large-firm, pro-bono Washington lawyers for several of the prisoners there. The disk contained secretly taken photographs of covert CIA agents, to be shown to terrorists at Gitmo to see if they could identify them,
The goal in both cases seems to be to pry out military information and make it public, so more Americans, and other nationals, will be killed. In turn, that should lead to a change in American international policy.
The Freedom of Information Act does contain a national security exception. This case should be thrown out quickly and decisively. But, justice will not be done unless both the lawyers on the case and the ACLU itself have substantial fees and costs assessed against them for bringing this frivolous, and dangerous law suit.
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