Disclosure of government secrets often has little to do with the public's right to know and has everything to do an official's need to tell, according to ACLU deputy director Jameel Jaffer.
And that's especially true when it comes to assassinations, which have not traditionally been an openly admitted component of U.S. foreign policy -- but the American Civil Liberities Union is cautioning that the Obama administration is changing all of that.
In an exclusive interview with Raw Story, Jaffer, a key attorney with the rights group, even warned that the Democrat in office has taken a position on unilateral murder so extreme as to be "profoundly troubling" in its legal reach and potential for future use.
"U.S. officials hurt our democracy by withholding information from the courts but then disclosing it to the public whenever it suits their needs," Jaffer wrote in a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed.
For example, the CIA's "targeted killing" program has been shrouded in secrecy for years, but a recent Newsweek interview with former CIA lawyer John Rizzo shed light on the policy.
The "kill list," which Rizzo said he signed off on during his time at the agency, contains about 30 civilians or "unlawful combatants" to be targeted and killed.
In 2010, the ACLU sued the Obama administration after it was leaked that Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, was on the government's "kill list."
"The Predator [drone] is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head," Rizzo told the magazine.
"It's a radical departure that the administration has taken from historical practice," Jaffer told Raw Story. "The administration has taken the position that it has the authority -- not just in traditional war zones like Afghanistan, but far away from traditional war zones in places like Somalia or Yemen -- to use lethal force against anyone whom the administration concludes is an enemy of the United States."
"To us, that's a profoundly troubling assertion. The reality is that many Americans trust the Obama administration with this power. Even if it's justifiable to trust this administration with that power -- and I'm not sure that it is -- but even if it is justifiable, you have to consider what the next administration will do with this power. It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to come up with a scenario where a power like this could be abused," he said...
Exclusive: Obama has taken a ‘profoundly troubling’ position on assassinations, ACLU tells Raw
Thursday, April 7th, 2011