Dear Mr. President:
In response to partial release of the Department of Justice memos describing the underlying legal justifications for the targeted killings of American citizens and others in the course of counterterrorism operations, we are writing to emphasize Congress’ vital oversight role in these matters. Every American has the right to know the underlying legal rationale that ensures due process.
Authorizing the killing of American citizens and others has profound implications for our Constitution, the core values of our nation, our national security and future international practice. The executive branch’s claim of authority to deprive citizens of life, and to do so without explaining the legal basis for doing so, set a dangerous precedent and is a model of behavior the United States would not want other nations to emulate.
Therefore, we ask that you release, in an unclassified form, the full legal basis of executive branch claims in the areas which are the subject of this letter. The Executive’s claims of authority need to be fully articulated to the whole of Congress and the American people.