House Judiciary Makes (Partial) Progress on Drones, But Not the Senate

Just as the House Judiciary Committee was about to vote to subpoena OLC’s targeted killing memos, DOJ finally agreed to share them with the committee tasked with overseeing OLC.

Just before the hearing, however, DOJ agreed to provide the documents. Goodlatte, the chairman, announced he would postpone the meeting to authorize the subpoena and cancel it once arrangements are made for viewing the documents.

“It’s unfortunate that it took a subpoena notice for the Department to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee,” Goodlatte said. “The House Judiciary Committee is charged with oversight over the Justice Department and U.S. Constitution and it is imperative that we explore the issues raised by the Administration’s policy.”

Though, from the context, it sounds like DOJ agreed to hand over only the memos authorizing Anwar al-Awlaki’s killing. I’m checking on this, but if this is the case, it’s the partial cave I’ve been expecting from DOJ for some time.

The Administration really doesn’t want to share its signature strike memos.

But that’s just memos. The Administration still refuses — as it did earlier when the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on drone killing — to send a live body to talk about its killing program.

“We do not currently plan to send a witness to this hearing and have remained in close contact with the committee about how we can best provide them the information they require,” Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman, wrote in an email to McClatchy.

She added that the White House would continue working with lawmakers “to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and the world.”

Hayden declined to say why the administration doesn’t plan to provide a witness for the hearing.

Add this to John Brennan’s refusal to answer Jan Schakowsky’s questions about drones last week, and the Administration really just refuses any oversight on this issue.

But really, they promise they’re being transparent.

Update: I was correct. House Judiciary Committee will only get what the Senate Judiciary Committee got, which is understood to be the Awlaki memos.

4 replies
  1. Gimme Shelter says:

    State of Michigan releated Drone news

    Michigan law enforcement agencies are pushing back against a plan to regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, arguing that recently introduced legislation is too broad and fails to anticipate legitimate uses of inexpensive drone technology.

    The legislation, co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 16 lawmakers and backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, would create a new act to authorize and regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, which are growing in popularity but not yet regularly used in Michigan.

    HB 4455 would require state and local agencies to acquire a search warrant before using a drone in any non-emergency situation. The bill would also ban the use of weaponized drones and regulate public disclosure of collected information. HB 4456 would amend the criminal code to establish unauthorized drone use as a public safety felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

    While law enforcement officials acknowledged a need to address privacy issues that accompany the new technology, they also pointed out that the bill would prohibit other justified uses, including crowd control at public events.

    For instance, authorities currently monitor University of Michigan football games by helicopter. There are four snipers on top of press boxes, and multiple cameras around the stadium.

    Michigan State Police do not currently own a drone. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, which utilized a drone during a standoff with a barricaded gunman in September, is the only agency in the state known to have used the new technology.

  2. ess emm says:

    Maybe it’s Goodlatte’s negotiation strategy: Ask for 11 memos and be happy with four (or two).

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