Before he wrote the best-selling book Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump, journalist Spencer Ackerman was part of the Pulitzer-winning team at The Guardian who first reported on the trove of national security documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Now, Ackerman has teamed back up with Laura Poitras, director of Snowden documentary Citizenfour and a founding editor at The Intercept, to share a new old document from the Snowden archives that has not been publicly available until now.
The document, titled "Targeted Killing-Policy, Legal and Ethical Controversy," comes from the US intelligence community's wiki, Intellipedia, and essentially details the IC threat assessments of human rights organizations and civil libertarians who said "Hey extrajudicial drone assassinations are bad and also illegal, hence the 'extrajudicial' part of their name." From Ackerman's (consistently fantastic) newsletter Forever Wars:
While the entry on the wiki, Intellipedia, contains largely public information, it provides unique insight into how U.S. intelligence agencies viewed human rights and other civil-society organizations as a threat to its policy of assassinations. One of its only classified sections baselessly suggests that such legal and political efforts to restrain the drone strikes—by both civil-society organizations and United Nations entities—might be driven by deadlier associations and agendas.
"The effort may indicate a concerted effort by human rights organizations, activist international lawyers and opposition forces to undermine the use of remotely piloted vehicles, targeted killing, preemption and other direct action as elements of United States policy," the document states.
Case in point:
The ACLU's 2010 effort to injunct Obama from killing Anwar al-Awlaki receives substantial attention in the Intellipedia entry. Although that lawsuit failed, the entry dwells on posthumous right-wing commentary defending al-Awlaki's killing. Conservative pundits seemed to believe that al-Awlaki's death has settled the matter, but the Intellipedia author(s) give special weight to "editorials … charging that the ACLU case is a subtle effort, establishing precedent to impose real-time non-government legal oversight of executive decisions regarding the conduct of warfare."
That is a hysterical way for U.S. intelligence analysts to describe a lawsuit whose point was to ensure due process for an American citizen who had not been charged with a crime but whom the government assassinated.
Here's the full document, if you're interested. Also you should subscribe to Forever Wars, because Ackerman is doing fantastic work breaking down the US defense and security industries.
On U.S. Intelligence's Wiki, Anxiety About Legal Challenges To Drone Strikes [Spencer Ackerman & Laura Poitras / Forever Wars]
Image: Mike / Flickr (CC-BY-SA 2.0)