Protect Democracy Files Brief to Get Secret Legal Memo on Syria Strikes

  • December 13, 2017

Protect Democracy is continuing its battle in court to force the government to disclose the Administration’s legal authority for launching military strikes against Syria in April 2017.  After Protect Democracy filed a lawsuit in May, the court recognized the importance of our request, stating, “[b]eing closed off from such a debate is itself a harm in an open democracy.”

In September, the government turned over a Vaughn Index, a list of records that they claim that one or more privileges allows them to be withheld.  The first entry is a secret legal memo that the government is holding back from the American people.  In addition, the government is withholding about a dozen other talking points for the media and Congress.

On December 8, Protect Democracy filed its motion to get the memo, among other relevant records, stating:  “The withheld documents are precisely the sort of secret law that FOIA does not allow to be kept hidden from the American people.  The Executive Branch has frequently shared this body of working law with the American people because it is so important to the public’s understanding of a critical issue in our democracy.   If the government gets its way here and the Executive Branch’s legal theories are maintained as a secret body of law, then there is no ability for the Congress or the public to provide the democratic check that the Founders envisioned.”

Read the motion here