On September 30, 2011, two Predator drones flew from a secret CIA base in Saudi Arabia to the Yemen province of al-Jawf. There, the unmanned aircrafts fired multiple missiles at a vehicle containing American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. Both men, who had substantial links to al-Qaeda, were killed in the strike. Several weeks later, Awlaki’s sixteen-year-old son, American-born Abdulrahman, was killed in Yemen in a similar drone attack. The latter attack was targeting a senior al-Qaeda official. The killings of the three American citizens, though done with the approval of the Obama administration, prompted a great deal of controversy.
In the wake of these events, the ACLU submitted a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information about the killings of the three men. Over the course of five years of litigation, this case was appealed to the Second Circuit three times, resulting in many documents being disclosed, and others withheld.
This decision had to deal with the last set of documents that the ACLU was seeking. The plaintiff argued that these documents should be ordered disclosed by the court, whereas the defense argued that they were exempt from a Freedom of Information Act request.