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Entries in Obama Administration (23)


Pakistan Feature: How and Why the US Started "Targeted Killing" With Drones (Mazzetti)

Pakistani insurgent Nek Muhammad, the first victim of a CIA drone strike in 2004 (Photo: Kamran Wazir/Reuters)

Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

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Syria Analysis: Washington Supports Arming of Insurgents So the Regime Will Negotiate

Syrian military fires rockets from Mezzeh airport in Damascus on Wednesday.

See also Wednesday's Syria Live Coverage: The Fighting Near Aleppo's Historic Mosque

The US is sending a signal to the regime that the time to negotiate is now. That signal may be heard in Moscow louder than it will be heard in Damascus, but it could put Russia in a spot where they will either have to pressure President Assad or watch as Syria's insurgents are further strengthened.

This, however, is not a full American move to military backing of the opposition. Kerry is hardly a hawk for intervention, and Obama has never signaled that he supports arming the insurgency.

So the questions: what happens if the regime will not make the essential commitment --- the departure of President Assad --- for the negotiations?

Given that the new "non-lethal" military aid is not enough to secure an insurgent victory, what next?

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Syria Analysis: Washington Supports Arming of Insurgents So the Regime Will Negotiate

This article has now moved. The article can be read here. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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US Politics Special: A 6-Point Guide to the "Fiscal Cliff"

President Obama calls on Friday for a resolution to avoid the "fiscal cliff"

See also US Audio Feature: So How Serious is This "Fiscal Cliff"? --- Scott Lucas with the BBC

Editor's Note: As 2012 comes to a close, the emergency story in the US press is the "fiscal cliff". If there is no agreement by midnight, then tax cuts introduced by George W. Bush almost a decade ago will lapse, and funding of Federal programmes --- such as benefits for long-term unemployment and farm subsidies --- will be in jeopardy.

Discussions on Sunday were adjourned without agreement between the Obama Administration and Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, despite Democratic concessions such as the raising of tax rates only on those making more than $450,000 a year and on an escalation of estate tax.

But as the haggling over details continues to the last minute, what are the basic economic issues? What happens if the clock strikes 12 and there is no dramatic resolution? EA's Lee Haddigan explains....

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EA Video Analysis: A Beginner's Guide to Drone Strikes, "Kill Lists", and Obama's War on Terror 

Slate recently published an interactive map of US drone strikes in Pakistan, graphically revealing the scale of this emerging form of warfare. With reports that the CIA is seeking to expand its fletts of drones, coupled with the announcement that a UN team will investigate civilian deaths caused by such attacks, we ask what the effects are of this cheaper form of American warfare and risk consideration of the people who feel the effects of the strikes.

With the expanding use of drone strikes, the Obama Administration --- co-operating with the media to reveal its "secret" programmes --- is promising the American public a war without end should it enjoy a second term. Is this a renewed "War of Terror" with a goal that can be achieved, or does it risks exacerbating the "terrorism" it is supposedly eliminating?


Syria Feature: Obama Administration Seeks a New Opposition Council (Rogin)

Opposition figure Riad SeifSyrian opposition leaders of all stripes will convene in Qatar next week to form a new leadership body to subsume the opposition Syrian National Council, which is widely viewed as ineffective, consumed by infighting, and little respected on the ground.

The State Department has been heavily involved in crafting the new council as part of its effort oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and build a more viable and unified opposition. In September, for instance, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with a group of Syrian activists who were flown in to New York for a high-level meeting that has not been reported until now.

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US Feature: A Map of President Obama's 284 Drone Strikes in Pakistan

See also US Feature: Obama's Man Writing the "Playbook" for the "War on Terror"

Slate presents a map, based on information to June from the New American Foundation and updated with media reports since then, of US drone strikes in Pakistan in the Bush and Obama Administrations.

While striking, the map may be conservative in its presentation. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found earlier this month that "the Long War Journal and the New America Foundation have been under-recording credible reports of drone civilian casualties in Pakistan by a huge margin".


US Feature: Obama's Man Writing the "Playbook" for the "War on Terror" (DeYoung)

John Brennan & Barack Obama (Pete Souza/White House)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.

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Syria Feature: Obama Administration Quietly Backs Arms to Insurgents?

We have assessed, based on weeks of reports, that foreign governments and groups have been sending supplies --- including communications equipment, night-vision goggles, and bullet-proof vests --- to Syrian insurgents. We also suspect, though we cannot establish, that foreign actors are ensuring small arms get to the Free Syrian Army.

Now Josh Rogin, writing for The Cable blog of Foreign Policy magazine, gives an indication that the Obama Administration has been or is on he verge of supporting these efforts:

The Obama administration is moving to provide direct assistance to the internal opposition in Syria for the first time, marking a shift in U.S. policy toward a more aggressive plan to help oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Last week, a group of senior Obama administration officials met to finalize a package of options for aiding both the internal and external Syrian opposition, to include providing direct humanitarian and communications assistance to the Syrian opposition,

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US Feature: How the Supreme Court's Next Decisions Will Become Part of 2012 Politics

Against a background of a hotly-fought election, with some of the issues before the Court like immigration and health care reform sure to contribute to the ideological divide, “rambunctious” may prove to be an understatement of the nine months ahead.

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