1. Have you read the Barron memo on "targeted killings" that the Administration has offered to share with the whole Senate?
2. If you have not read the Barron memo shared by the Administration, do you pledge to read it before voting on Barron's confirmation?
3. Do you think that the Administration should share all "targeted killing" memos written or signed by Barron with the whole Senate before the Senate votes on his confirmation?
4. Do you think that the Administration should comply with the decision of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that it must share a redacted version of the Barron memo with the public, or do you think that the Administration should appeal the decision?
5. If you think that the Administration should comply with the decision of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, do you think that the Administration should comply before the Senate votes on Barron's confirmation?
I hope that readers will help in the comments, by posting press clips and citations, and by calling Senate offices (the Congressional switchboard is 202-225-3121.) I will update the diary based on the comments, as well as my own searches of the press, and feedback we get from Just Foreign Policy members and others who call the Senate and report their calls to Just Foreign Policy.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), reported in the Washington Post:
The White House gesture failed to sway some lawmakers, including Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who indicated he would oppose Barron’s nomination unless the memo was released publicly.
“Barron’s nomination understandably raises key questions about the administration’s legal justification for the targeted killing of Americans and about its year-old pledge of greater transparency,” said Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said the White House should comply with a recent court order “to release its redacted legal justification for killing a U.S. citizen.” He added, “Unless the White House complies, I cannot support David Barron’s nomination.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Oregon), reported
in the New York Times
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and one of the senators who have voiced deep concern over the secrecy of the administration’s drone policy, said Monday that he had agreed that the vote on Mr. Barron should not move forward until senators could see more of the secret legal opinions that the nominee produced at the Justice Department.
Mr. Wyden added that he was also not committed to voting yes.
“Certainly the opinion would not be something I would have written. The question is: Is it disqualifying,” he said, adding that the administration should start the process of releasing the memos. “It needs to be addressed before a vote.”
that Wyden "has also urged the White House to make the memos public," although apparently Wyden has not yet joined Udall in publicly linking this demand to Barron's confirmation.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) chair of Senate Judiciary Committee: The Hill noted on May 5 that Leahy has pushed on disclosure in the past:
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) last year voted against Brennan, who defended the administration’s drone program during his confirmation hearing.
Paul’s objection puts Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in a tricky position. He voted in January to send Barron’s nomination to the floor, but he has also teamed with Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the committee, in pushing the Justice Department to share its legal rationale for drone strikes on American citizens.
Leahy said in prepared remarks at a hearing on drones on April 23, 2013, that he had, for more than a year, sought access to the complete legal justification prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel supporting the targeted killing of Americans.
Leahy said that members of his committee had been provided access to “some OLC documents” and vowed to seek additional information.
“I will continue to advocate for public disclosure of this legal analysis, consistent with the protection of national security,” he said.
However, I have found no public record that that Leahy is using his leverage now to push for disclosure. Press reports give the impression that Leahy is supporting Barron's confirmation without any disclosure conditions on the drone strike memos.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on Senate Judiciary: The Hill noted on May 5:
A spokeswoman for Grassley said Barron’s nomination should not advance until the Justice Department complies with the 2nd Circuit’s ruling.
CQ reported on May 6
“...you’d think that any member who truly cares about the Obama administration’s drone policy should want to wait until the administration complies with the court order before they are asked to cast a vote,” Beth Levine, Grassley’s aide, wrote in an email.
However, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Judiciary panel, is questioning if there are other documents that should be made available.
“According to news reports, Mr. Barron authored at least one additional memo that the White House continues to withhold from senators expected to vote on his lifetime appointment to the federal courts. It’s anybody’s guess what other relevant materials on the drone program written by, or related to, Mr. Barron haven’t been released,” Grassley said in his own statement.
Sen Rand Paul (R-KY): The Hill reported on May 5
Paul, the junior Republican senator from Kentucky, has informed Reid he will object to David Barron’s nomination to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, unless the Justice Department makes public the memos he authored justifying the killing of an American citizen in Yemen.
Please post new information in the comments, including press reports and feedback from Senate offices. I'm interested in both Democratic and Republican Senators, but Democratic Senators are much more interesting right now, because they're the ones who have the most leverage.
Here are some particular Democratic Senators of interest:
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.): as noted above, he voted against the confirmation of Brennan to head the CIA.
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN): on the Judiciary Committee, he has spoken strongly in favor of transparency on the drone strike memos, both publicly and to constituents.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL): also on the Judiciary Committee, chair of the Constitution subcommittee, held a hearing on the drone strike policy. A staffer for Durbin wrote to me this morning:
Senator Durbin has called for the Administration to share more information with Congress and the American people about the drone program and its legal analysis of its authority to engage in targeted killing, and this is still his position.
I wrote back:
Thanks for your reply.
Is there any possibility that Senator Durbin could say that the Administration should
1) share all the Barron memos with all the Senate and/or
2) comply with the court order to publish a redacted version of the Barron memo
prior to a Senate vote on Barron's confirmation?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): has pushed some for greater transparency on the drone strike policy, used Brennan confirmation as leverage, sponsored a provision on the Senate intelligence authorization that would require the Administration to report on how many civilians are being killed by drone strikes.
Please help! Post new info in the comments, and I will incorporate that info into the diary.
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