The missile strike on Sept. 30, 2011, that killed Mr. Awlaki — a terrorist leader whose death lawyers in the Obama administration believed to be justifiable — also killed Mr. Khan, though officials had judged he was not a significant enough threat to warrant being specifically targeted. The next month, another drone strike mistakenly killed Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, who had set off into the Yemeni desert in search of his father. Within just two weeks, the American government had killed three of its own citizens in Yemen. Only one had been killed on purpose.
Entries in John Brennan (20)
EA Video Analysis: Drones, President Obama, and Rand Paul's Filibuster --- "More Macbeth Than Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
Six minutes taking apart Wednesday night's drama of Senator Rand Paul, nominally opposing the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director, speaking for 13 hours --- the ninth-longest filibuster in history --- about the Obama Administration's use of drone warfare....
Was it really significant?
"Here's what the media didn't recognise. Rand Paul's statements, his show, his declarations, his posturing didn't do a damn thing....This wasn't Mr Smith Goes to Washington. This was Mr Macbeth: a 13-hour speech full of sound and fury, but signifying nothng."
US Audio Feature: Drones and Senator Paul's "False Drama" Filibuster --- Scott Lucas with Monocle 24
I spoke with Monocle 24's The Daily last night about the "false drama" of Senator Rand Paul's 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday-Thursday, initially over the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director but featuring criticism of the Obama Administration's policy on drone warfare.
Why a "false drama"? For all the sudden media attention because of Paul's speech --- the ninth-longest in Senate history --- his criticism was, in the end, superficial.
The only substantive demand that Paul made was an assurance that Americans could not be killed on American soil by drones. The White House offered that "concession" on Thursday.
Brennan was subsequently confirmed as CIA Director by the Senate.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration retains the freedom to develop its new strategy of drone warfare --- including the target killing of American citizens, as well as the "collateral damage" of slain civilians --- in any country except the US.
Facing the possibility that President Obama might not win a second term, his administration accelerated work in the weeks before the election to develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials.
The matter may have lost some urgency after Nov. 6. But with more than 300 drone strikes and some 2,500 people killed by the Central Intelligence Agency and the military since Mr. Obama first took office, the administration is still pushing to make the rules formal and resolve internal uncertainty and disagreement about exactly when lethal action is justified.
Al Jazeera English's Inside Story asks, "Are US Drone Strikes A War Crime?"
1. Despite the US bombing campaign in Yemen, which has been partially designed to keep Al Qa'eda in the Arabian Peninsula on its heels so that it can't plot attacks against the US, the organization is still actively plotting and attempting to launch new attacks;
2. The more recruits AQAP gains the bigger of a talent pool it has upon which to draw.
In his windowless White House office, presidential counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is compiling the rules for a war the Obama administration believes will far outlast its own time in office, whether that is just a few more months or four more years.
The “playbook,” as Brennan calls it, will lay out the administration’s evolving procedures for the targeted killings that have come to define its fight against al-Qaeda and its affiliates. It will cover the selection and approval of targets from the "disposition matrix", the designation of who should pull the trigger when a killing is warranted, and the legal authorities the administration thinks sanction its actions in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond.
Scene of a US drone strike in Afghanistan (Photo: EPA)
Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”
The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.
Protest in Pakistan earlier this month against US drone strikes
The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force, U.S. officials said.
The proposal by CIA Director David H. Petraeus would bolster the agency’s ability to sustain its campaigns of lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen and enable it, if directed, to shift aircraft to emerging al-Qaeda threats in North Africa or other trouble spots, officials said.
If approved, the CIA could add as many as 10 drones, the officials said, to an inventory that has ranged between 30 and 35 over the past few years.
Yemen's new president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, was sworn into office this February after being the consensus candidate in a national referendum. He is meant to be overseeing a transition to full democracy in the country following a revolution that erupted in January 2011.
That revolution, however, spurred a violent power struggle between loyalists of the old regime --- the family of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled for over 30 years - and defected factions of the military and tribes opposed to him.
As fighting broke out across the capital city, Sanaa, in 2011, various rebel groups throughout the country that had long been fighting the government, took advantage of the chaos to sweep across new swathes of territory.
In interviews with The New York Times, three dozen of his current and former advisers described Mr. Obama’s evolution since taking on the role, without precedent in presidential history, of personally overseeing the shadow war with Al Qaeda.
They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. While he was adamant about narrowing the fight and improving relations with the Muslim world, he has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”