The Pakistan Daily Times & Agence France-Presse & Russia Today – 2012-05-29 23:09:48
Obama Approves Every Drone Strike
The Pakistan Daily Times & Agence France-Presse
WASHINGTON (May 30, 2012) — US President Barack Obama has personally overseen a top-secret process for determining which al Qaeda suspects should be placed on a “kill list”, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The Times, citing dozens of top officials and former advisers, said the administration had developed what it termed the “kill list” as part of a stepped-up drone war against al Qaeda and its affiliates in Pakistan and Yemen. “He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” it quoted US National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon as saying. “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 Times described the top-secret process, which begins with some 100 counter-terrorism officials sifting through biographies and “nominating” suspects in Yemen and Somalia to be added to the kill list during a secure videoconference run by the Pentagon. The CIA carries out a separate process for suspects in Pakistan, it said.
The nominations then go to Obama, who signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and also on especially complex and risky strikes in Pakistan — about a third of the total, the Times said. Obama personally approves the killing of top suspects, such as Qaeda preacher Anwar al Awlaqi — a US citizen — who was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen last year.
The Times quoted former White House chief of staff William Daley as saying that Obama called the decision to strike Awlaqi “an easy one”, but Daley said some officials had expressed some qualms about the kill list.
“One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No 21, becomes 20?” the Times quoted Daley as saying. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”
The Times also described an internal debate over the US administration’s disputed method for counting casualties, in which men of fighting age within striking distance of a suspect are considered militants.
It quoted one official as saying that al Qaeda was an insular, paranoid organisation that would keep its distance from outsiders. But others said the Obama administration’s claim that the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan was in the “single digits” was unrealistic. afp
Obama Approves Names To Be Put on
Kill Lists of Drone Strikes
MOSCOW (May 30, 2012) — According to the report published by the paper on Tuesday, every week or so, more than 100 members of the countryâ€™s national security team gather via secure video teleconference run by the Pentagon and go over the biographies of suspects in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, and “nominate” those who should be targeted in the attacks.
The identities of the nominees are then provided to Obama, who signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and on especially complex and risky strikes in Pakistan.
National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon said, “He (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,” he noted.
The report noted that no other US president in the countryâ€™s history ever took such a singular role in deciding such matters.
A US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaqi was killed in Yemen in an assassination drone attack approved by Obama last year. Critics have said that it set a worrying precedent that the president could single-handedly decide to be “judge, jury, and executioner” over an American.
In Pakistan, Washington claims that its airstrikes target militants crossing the border with Afghanistan, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.
The US military has also used the drones in Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq.
On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the use of the drones as “the most precise weapon we have” in the campaign against al-Qaeda. At least 21 people were killed in US drone attacks across the world in less than 24 hours following his remarks.
The UN has denounced the attacks as targeted killings and said they posed a challenge to international law.
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