WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama is facing demands in court to reveal more about the US drone program, despite his speech addressing it on Thursday and his government's acknowledgement a day earlier that four Americans have died in drone strikes.
Civil liberties advocates, news organizations and the families of those who died have brought lawsuits in New York, Washington and Oakland, California, challenging the government's refusal to provide information.
Now that the drone program's existence has at last been confirmed, government lawyers on Wednesday indicated they would abandon their previous arguments, which did not confirm or deny the drone program. In the case in Oakland, they said they would give a new response to the Freedom of Information Act request filed by the First Amendment Coalition within 30 days.
That suit asks the government to release the legal justification behind the 2011 targeted drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen and militant cleric in Yemen.
In a separate case in Washington, a federal judge acted immediately after news reports emerged on the US acknowledgement of the four American deaths, and late Wednesday she ordered Justice Department lawyers to file a memorandum next month on the implications of US Attorney General Eric Holder's letter on Wednesday about the drone program.
The letter from Holder to lawmakers confirmed for the first time reports that New Mexico-born cleric Awlaki died after he was targeted in a US attack.