The two memos, which justified the use of lethal force to eliminate al-Awlaki without the constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial, were written by David J. Barron, the former acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.
Paul's op-ed comes after the White House announced the Justice Department will hand over the memos for congressional review as they contemplate Barron's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit Court. Paul, along with Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said that the memos should not just be reviewed by Congress, but redacted and released for the review of the public.
"The American people deserve to see redacted versions of these memos so that they can understand the Obama administration's legal justification for this extraordinary exercise of executive power," wrote Paul. "The White House may invoke national security against disclosure, but legal arguments that affect the rights of every American should not have the privilege of secrecy."
Paul cited the American Civil Liberties Union saying that no senator can carry out the confirmation of Barron without reading the memos that he wrote.
"In battle, combatants engaged in war against America get no due process and may lawfully be killed. But citizens not in a battlefield, however despicable, are guaranteed a trial by our Constitution," said Paul.
Both Paul and Udall have threatened to block Barron's nomination without the public release of the redacted memos.