According to the suit, the attack “raised deep concerns about the legal and factual basis” of the operation and its “planning and execution.” Owens was the first service member to lose his life during US President Donald Trump’s time in office.
The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the CIA, Pentagon, Justice Department and State Department in March. While the Defense Department admitted a dozen civilian casualties in the incident, journalists and NGOs allege the real figure may have been more than twice that. Some agencies have failed to reply to the FOIA request, while others have been cooperative.
“This White House cannot be trusted to give the public accurate information,” according to Hina Shamsi, director at ACLU National Security Project. Of course, these details are “especially critical when the president authorizes military action that kills civilians,” she added.
Shamsi noted the Obama administration’s poor record on transparency when it came to civilian war casualties, not to mention US sales of military gear to Saudi Arabia to conduct its own strikes on funeral mourners, though the Trump administration, in turn, has earned “little credibility.”
“The documents we seek are essential for public accountability when civilians are killed in the name of our national security,” Shamsi said.