United States District Court Judge Colleen McMahon ruled on Wednesday that the United States Justice Department does not have a legal obligation to explain its rationale behind killing American citizens in targeted drone strikes.
The ACLU and the New York Times both filed a lawsuit because they were refused documents about targeted killings by the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act.
“There are indeed legitimate reasons, historical and legal, to question the legality of killings unilaterally authorized by the Executive that take place otherwise than on a ‘hot’ field of battle,” McMahon wrote in a 75-page ruling.
“The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me;” she continued, “but after careful consideration, I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules — a veritable Catch-22,” she writes. “I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reason for their conclusion a secret.”