Who to kill, who to kill? President Obama is currently overseeing the creation of an Al Qaeda kill list.
According to the New York Times, Obama and about 100 counter-terrorism officials have worked their way through a list of potentially dangerous Al Qaeda members and put them on a “kill list” in order to specify new targets for the drone war in Pakistan and Yemen.
National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon said:
“(President Obama) is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go. 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.”
According to Raw Story, the panel of about 100 counter-terrorism officials, worked their way through “biographies” of various suspected terrorists and nominated several people for the Al Qaeda kill list. The nominees are then sent to President Obama who personally signs off on fatal drone missions.
Obama, according to the Times, signed off on the mission that killed Al Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaqi, who was a US citizen.
The NY Times writes:
“When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.”
Reuters reports that the kill list process isn’t condoned by everyone. Former White House chief of staff William Daley said:
“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?… At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”
The report also describes a controversy within the organization. The Obama administration claims that civilian causalities in drone attacks are currently in single digits. That may be because the White House counts any man of fighting age within striking distance of a suspect as a militant.
One official said:
“Al Qaeda is an insular, paranoid organization — innocent neighbors don’t hitchhike rides in the back of trucks headed for the border with guns and bombs,”
Still, some officials believe that the single digit estimate of civilian casualties is unrealistic.