So who really decides who lives and who dies in the war against Al Qaeda? Turns out, President Barack Obama has personally overseen a top secret process for determining which terrorism suspects should be placed on a “kill list,” according to the New York Times.
The Obama administration had reportedly developed what it dubber the “kill list” as part of a drone war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates located in Pakistan and Yemen.
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon.
“His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world… He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
The process for coming up with the Al Qaeda kill list starts out with approximately 100 counter-terrorism officials sorting through biographies and “nominating” suspects in Yemen and Somalia to be added to the list during a video conference coordinated by the Pentagon.
The CIA also carries out a separate process for evaluating suspects in Pakistan.
The nominations then go to President Obama, who personally signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia.
Obama personally approves the killing of all top suspects, such as Al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone strike last year.
Former White House chief of staff William Daley said that Obama called the decision to strike Awlaki “an easy one,” but Daley added that some officials have expressed concerns about the Al Qaeda kill list.
“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Daley said. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”
There is also apparently some internal debate over the Obama administration’s method for calculating casualties, whereby men of fighting age within striking distance of a suspect are considered militants.
The Times report quoted one official as saying that Al Qaeda was an insular organization that would keep its distance from most outsiders.
Other, though, said that the administration’s claim that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan was in the “single digits” was unrealistic.
- Yemen, U.S. vow to crush Al-Qaeda after troops massacred (dailystar.com.lb)
- Obama says very concerned by Al-Qaeda in Yemen (vancouverdesi.com)
- Obama says very concerned by al Qaeda in Yemen (rawstory.com)