Obama Administration officials tell TIME they are one step closer to releasing a classified legal justification for the use of drone strikes against Americans fighting for al-Qaeda.
Pressure to disclose this information – mainly from Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and libertarian Republican Sen. Rand Paul – has stalled David Barron’s nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for First Circuit. Barron, who previously worked at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, was the principal author of at least one memo that provided the legal basis for the extrajudicial killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and senior al-Qaeda figure in the Arabian Peninsula.
Last month, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the memo must be made public in response to lawsuits filed by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and office disclosure of the DOJ White Paper,” Judge Jon Newman wrote, referring to the Justice Department report on the legal rationale for the administration’s drone policy.
The Obama Administration was given 60 days to decide whether to appeal or release the document, sparking a transparency vs. confidentiality debate within the Administration.