The decision unsealed Tuesday, however, allows ten other Justice Departments documents to remain secret. The difference, the court says, is that administration officials discussed much of the material from the memo in public speeches, and in an unclassified "white paper," while officials had remained largely silent about these 10 memos.
"We emphasize at the outset that the lawfulness of drone strikes is not at issue," Judge Jon O. Newman wrote for the panel. "This appeal, like the prior one, primarily concerns whether documents considering such lawfulness must be disclosed."
ACLU deputy director Jameel Jaffer strongly criticized the ruling, saying that, "In a democracy, there should be no room for 'secret law.' "