Obama personally oversees al Qaeda 'kill list': Report

By AFP
Published: May 29, 2012
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US President Barack Obama has personally overseen a top-secret process for determining which al Qaeda suspects should be placed on a "kill list". PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

US President Barack Obama has personally overseen a top-secret process for determining which al Qaeda suspects should be placed on a "kill list". PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

WASHINGTON: 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 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 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 video conference 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 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 organization 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.

 

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Anon....
    May 29, 2012 - 3:48PM

    Just like Iraq and Afghanistan eventually backfired for Bush, so will this drone strategy backfire for Obama. Just like Bush, Obama can keep deluding himself over the success of his strategy till the end when things are too out of control to brush under the carpet

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  • Lauran
    May 29, 2012 - 4:23PM

    Suddenly al Qaeda are Obama’s concern just in time for the election. What a farce

    Never mind your new affectation of actually caring about this country, comrade, just lose that election and really show us the love.Recommend

  • Anu
    May 29, 2012 - 5:34PM

    Will some one tame America or its 21st century wild west?

    Recommend

  • Anonymous
    May 29, 2012 - 9:26PM

    Is he a president or chicago crime boss? Nevermind that he calls himself a liberal domcrate opposes torture but likes to dispense death without persumption innocence and or trial by jury of peers. All in the name of security and realism. He makes bush look like a school kid.

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  • May 29, 2012 - 10:49PM

    it seems mr obama has realized the freedom conumdrum of true conservative thought….the liberal ideal can only choose the truths to create a liberal arguement which in the world and minds dont exhist..and as he plays both sides…not only the terrorists and terrorist haboring countries shun what america is about..so does he freedom doesnt only cost american livesit costs many many lives good and bad…..mr obama, dont worry and also dont heed, there is a god and he will sort them out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuCAkUtKMKYRecommend

  • ayesha_khan
    May 29, 2012 - 11:13PM

    @Lauran: “Suddenly al Qaeda are Obama’s concern just in time for the election. What a farce
    Never mind your new affectation of actually caring about this country, comrade, just lose that election and really show us the love.”

    Not that sudden is it? Under his watch
    – there was a surge in Afghanistan
    – significant uptick in use of drones
    – the tough conversations with Pak military about accountability
    – the operation tat finally killed OBL

    Recommend

  • dugway
    May 30, 2012 - 12:33AM

    President Johnson controlled the target list during the Vietnam war. Some argue that this prevented the military from prosecuting targets that had a military necessity but political inconvenience, thus prolonging and ultimately losing the war.

    My greater concern is that there are US citizens being killed without trial, either as primary targets or “collateral damage.” Our Bill of Rights says that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Due Process includes some sort of judicial balance, a jury, a trial… Obama has chosen to make himself the judge, jury and executioner, in direct contravention to the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

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  • May 30, 2012 - 3:20AM

    Obama is a war criminal. He’s a mass murder.

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  • Everyone is a collateral damage
    May 30, 2012 - 6:01AM

    Since the Prez. signs off of juicy targets, collateral damage is now justified.
    Think about it, if some terrorists were hiding in the US and Pakistan sent in drones
    resulting in collateral damage, it would be just fine.

    I am sure back in the 80’s they did not have drones or else USSR would ve sent those in inside Pakistan where the US Advisers and trainers trained the taliban predecessors !

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  • Super Star
    May 30, 2012 - 3:21PM

    Obama is not a “war criminal”. he is a criminal eliminator.

    Recommend

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