When Bob Goodlatte Joins the Chorus Demanding the Memos…

To date, the push to release the targeted killing memos has come from a few civil libertarians in both parties — Ron Wyden and his usual allies in the Senate, Jerry Nadler and a few allies on the House Judiciary Commitee, Mike Lee — and Chuck Grassley, who is good on issues of oversight. There was John Cornyn’s attempt to get the memo last year, and Susan Collins — carrying over a decent oversight stance from her work at the Homeland Security Committee — joined Wyden’s effort earlier this week.

Thus, with just a few exceptions, the push has been led by a fairly small group of people who continually push such issues.

Until now. Bob Goodlatte, James Sensenbrenner, and Trent Franks have just joined their Democratic counterparts demanding memos pertaining to all drone strikes, asking for signature strikes by name (this is effectively a restatement of this request from the Democrats in December).

The House Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction in this area is clear: we are the congressional committee with responsibility over civil liberties, the Constitution, and criminal law enforcement, as well as oversight of the Justice Department. Irrespective of the role of the Intelligence Committees, our role and responsibility with regard to this matter is also well established through our longstanding participation in oversight of other national security programs, including those involving our surveillance agencies that have arisen in the wake of the 9.11 [sic] terrorist attacks. We believe that our authority and responsibility to review the legal justifications for the administration’s drone program is beyond dispute.


We are disappointed that three prior requests to review these memoranda by members of the Committee have gone unanswered.

It will be interesting to see what their motive is for getting involved: whether it’s the sense that their prerogative has been slighted (as it has) or whether they figure there must be something in the memos if Obama is going to such ridiculous lengths to hide them.

Whatever it is, though, this development suggests the calls are becoming increasingly bipartisan and mainstream.

In any case, this represents at least the 15th request for these memos.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. PeasantParty says:

    Maybe they should bypass Holder and go straight to Lisa Monaco. From the post below and other posts by EW, this woman holds the keys. Not to mention the fact that she is next in line to replace Brennan.

    I want to know why. Who is she, and why does she have her fear of disclosure taken so seriously by the group that meets on Tuesday mornings?

  2. Jeff Kaye says:

    They know or figure they’re going to come out one way or another, that what’s in them will be bad, and they want to look like they were on the right side to their constituents.

  3. PeasantParty says:

    From EW’s January 8th post:

    “Now, I’m interested in this for two reasons. First, consider what it means that the Administration and their complacent-overseer DiFi refused to let Jeff Merkley’s amendment–which would have called for summaries in some cases–pass. For starters, it would have shortened the time frame (two years have already passed since Lisa Monaco assured Senators she’d declassify opinions if only they confirmed her) it’d take to ask the Courts for a summary and get it. Additionally, it would have required the government admit if they could not, would not, declassify any teensy bit of the opinions on this secret law. That is, they’d have to finally admit there is secret law, which they’re denying right now.”

  4. orionATL says:

    this a welcome development. and a predictable one.

    feinstein and leahy’s efforts to smother the kid in the tower will become more difficult.

    will some house dems join the party?

    will the tea party now be able to get off its resusitator because of this issue?

    will the nra and its power-mad leaders benefit?

    will shuttling brennen off to the cia take the pressure of the whitehouse/doj?

  5. DonS says:

    Goodlatte is a local Rep. There is not much good I have thought about him, since he first violated his pledge to only run 5 terms several terms ago.

    It’s the perfect non-storm. Everyone’s doing the kabuki. Who even has much faith in Ron Wyden who, who for better or worse, is condemned to work within the system. But if there is to be crack in the wall it looks like it’s only going to come from an alliance of some serious lefties and righties.

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