The Man Who Wrote the Memo on “Justified Drone Strikes” Now a U.S. Judge

Rand PaulIn an attempt to block the nomination of David Barron to the office of the 1st Court of Appeals, Senator Rand Paul was relentless in his efforts to secure the release of memos written by Barron that say it is acceptable to kill U.S. citizens in targeted drone strikes as a means of fighting the war on terror.

Paul was supported by Chuck Grassley, who has also called for the Senate to block the nomination of Barron to office until the memos are released and reviewed.

In a statement from the floor of the Senate, Grassley, the highest ranked Republican on the Senate Judiciary committee, said of the nomination:

“We know that the Department of Justice relied on the legal arguments Professor Barron formulated to justify the targeted killing of an American citizen in a tribal region of Yemen in September 2011…

This nomination cannot go forward unless this body – every member of this body – is given access to any and all secret legal opinions this nominee wrote on this critical issue.”

Both Paul and Grassley insisted that senators as well as the American people should both request and be able to review the memos written by Barron.

The need for transparency on the issue is of the utmost importance since U.S. policy is being shaped by individuals like Barron… and since American lives are on the line. Grassley added:

“Are senators who are up for reelection in a few short months ready to vote on this nominee without knowing the full extent of his writings on a topic as serious as the killing of an American citizen by a drone?

“Are those senators ready to go home to face their constituents and explain that they cast a vote on that nominee without knowing all the facts?”

Though the White House has offered Senators the ability to read the memos, Paul would have none of it. Instead he insisted that the memos be made public and said that anything short of their full release would be “inadequate.”

Paul was also backed up by the ACLU who sees the President’s use of targeted strikes on American citizens alarming. As ACLU attorney Christopher Anders said:

“There is no other president in modern American history who has ordered the killing of an American citizen away from a battlefield without a judicial order, and by extension, there is no other federal government lawyer in modern American history who authorized the killing of an American citizen away from a battlefield.”

In spite of Paul’s efforts, the memos have not been released. Furthermore, the Senate did not block Barron’s nomination. They voted 53-45 for his final confirmation to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He then received his judicial commission on May 23, 2014.