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The document’s disclosure might serve the purpose, as Feinstein said, of giving the public the opportunity to “review and judge” the legality of such operations, and depending on the reception, could stifle some of the momentum for critics of the program as Brennan’s hearing nears.
But a number of senior senators have requested the underlying legal opinions that contain details not found in the white paper, including those who serve on the committees that received the white paper. On Monday, 11 senators — including the bipartisan leaders of the Judiciary Committee and three members of the Intelligence Committee — sent a letter to President Barack Obama again demanding the legal opinions.
The document’s contents did not assuage concerns from the American Civil Liberties Union. Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said “the paper only underscores the irresponsible extravagance of the government’s central claim,” and that its broad definitions of “imminence” and “feasibility,” as well as its claim that there is no judicial forum can evaluate the constitutional considerations, are reckless.
House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said he supported the thrust of the memo.
“I agree with the Justice Department’s conclusion that targeting a senior leader of al-Qa’ida is a lawful act of national self-defense in these circumstances,” he said in a news release. “When an individual has joined al-Qa’ida — the organization responsible for the murder of thousands of Americans — and actively plots future attacks against U.S. citizens, soldiers, and interests around the world, the U.S. government has both the authority and the obligation to defend the country against that threat.”