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President Obama on Monday night released a presidential memo directing all federal agencies to be as open about the country’s military operations as possible, along with a report detailing all eight years of the military action taken under his watch, and describing how those actions were justified.

“Since my earliest days in office, I have emphasized the importance of transparency and my commitment to making as much information as possible available to the Congress and the public about the United States use of military force and related national security operations,” Obama wrote in his memo. “Doing so, I believe, not only supports the process of democratic decision-making, but also demonstrates the legitimacy and strengthens the sustainability of our operations while promoting mutual understanding with our allies and partners.”

Obama’s team regularly touts itself as the “most transparent administration” in history. From being the first to open up the White House’s visitor logs to issuing an unprecedented report totaling the number of civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. airstrikes outside “areas of active hostilities,” Obama wants history to judge him as the most publicly accountable president to date.

But he also seemed to be laying out a transparency framework in which President-elect Trump might choose to operate. His suggestion took the form of a memo that Trump could easily override, but it could also set a standard he may choose to follow.



“Consistent with my commitment to transparency, my administration has provided to the public an unprecedented amount of information regarding these frameworks through speeches, public statements, reports and other materials,” Obama wrote. “We have attempted to explain, consistent with our national security and the proper functioning of the executive branch, when and why the United States conducts such operations, the legal basis and policy parameters for such operations, and how such operations have unfolded, so that the American people can better understand them.”

Obama specifically ordered “national security departments and agencies” to annually draft a report describing “key legal and policy frameworks that currently guide the United States use of military force and related national security operations, with a view toward the report being released to the public.”

The memo is timed precede a speech Obama will deliver on Tuesday. He heads to Tampa, Fla., to visit MacDill Air Force Base to meet with active duty service members and address troops there, and will discuss the nation’s counterterrorism campaign.

The ACLU praised the report and said it finally offers real clarity on torture, although the group lamented that the White House still insists it has the right to kill people overseas.

“Aspects of the report are strong, including the clear acknowledgement that torture and cruel treatment are always illegal under domestic and international law,” it said. “But we are sorely disappointed that even as it imposes policy limitations, the administration continues to claim broad authority to kill abroad, invoking the laws of war where they do not apply and doing so without any congressional authorization.””In the next administration, we will continue our work to rein in overbroad and unlawful claims of executive authority to kill,” it added.

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