Feds Ordered to Release Targeted Killing Memo Secret papers were used to justify killing US citizens By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Apr 22, 2014 4:21 AM CDT 17 comments Comments Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites. (AP Photo/SITE Intelligence Group, File) (Newser) – The Obama administration needs to release secret papers explaining its legal justification for killing American citizens in drone strikes overseas, a federal appeals court has ruled. The court decided that public statements from officials including President Obama and the release of a Justice Department "white paper" on targeted killings of Americans meant the government could no longer keep its analysis secret, reports the New York Times. The memo the administration has been ordered to release justified the 2011 assassination of New Mexico-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen along with another American citizen. Obama later said he had authorized the strike. "The government can't pretend that everything about its targeted killing program is a classified secret while senior officials selectively disclose information meant to paint the program in the most favorable light," an ACLU spokesman tells the AP.