The US government has asked a federal court in New York to dismiss lawsuits that sought release of documents about CIA's drone strikes abroad targeting militants, including American citizens, associated with groups like al Qaeda.
In a 50-page memorandum filed in US District Court, Southern District of New York on behalf of the US government, the lawyers including India-born Manhattan Attorney Preet Bharara said the court should grant summary judgment and dismiss the complaints as the information about the drone strikes is "classified."
The New York Times and rights group American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had through a Freedom of Information Act sought records relating to the US government's "use of targeted lethal force against US citizens and other persons associated with al Qaeda and other terrorist groups."
One instance of information requested through the lawsuit is about drone operations that led to the death of US-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaki.
ACLU also wants information about how the government got the evidence that led the administration to kill three Americans, including a 16-year-old boy, last year.
"Whether or not the CIA has the authority to be, or is in fact, directly involved in targeted lethal operations remains classified. And that is so notwithstanding the unsourced, unofficial statements and media reports that plaintiffs have identified.
"None of those statements or reports constitutes an official disclosure that could vitiate agencies' ability to safeguard the classified and other statutorily protected information at issue here, and none eliminates the national security harms that could result from disclosure of such information," the government said.