Renaissance Monkey: in-depth expertise in Jack-of-all-trading. I mostly comment on news of interest to me and occasionally engage in debates or troll passive-aggressively. Ask or Submit 2 mah authoritah! ;) !
Disposition Matrix: Obama’s kill list 2.0 revealed
President Obama’s drone program has been criticized for not only killing its targets without a trial hearing, but also for killing innocent people. But how are targets chosen? A recent Washington Post article sheds light on the process; the “disposition matrix” gives some clues on how the information leading to a drone strike is streamlined. Michael Brooks, producer for Majority Report, breaks them down.
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.
Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.
“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us,” a senior administration official said. “It’s a necessary part of what we do.. . . We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”
Less visible is the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. Spokesmen for the White House, the National Counterterrorism Center, the CIA and other agencies declined to comment on the matrix or other counterterrorism programs.
The database is meant to map out contingencies, creating an operational menu that spells out each agency’s role in case a suspect surfaces in an unexpected spot. “If he’s in Saudi Arabia, pick up with the Saudis,” the former official said. “If traveling overseas to al-Shabaab [in Somalia] we can pick him up by ship. If in Yemen, kill or have the Yemenis pick him up.”
Critics contend that those justifications have become more tenuous as the drone campaign has expanded far beyond the core group of al-Qaeda operatives behind the strikes on New York and Washington. Critics note that the administration still doesn’t confirm the CIA’s involvement or the identities of those who are killed. Certain strikes are now under legal challenge, including the killings last year in Yemen of U.S.-born al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son. Counterterrorism experts said the reliance on targeted killing is self-perpetuating, yielding undeniable short-term results that may obscure long-term costs. “The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser. “You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”
A year after Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta declared the core of al-Qaeda near strategic defeat, officials see an array of emerging threats beyond Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia — the three countries where almost all U.S. drone strikes have occurred. The Arab spring has upended U.S. counterterrorism partnerships in countries including Egypt where U.S. officials fear al-Qaeda could establish new roots. The network’s affiliate in North Africa, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has seized territory in northern Mali and acquired weapons that were smuggled out of Libya.
Obama approves the criteria for lists and signs off on drone strikes outside Pakistan, where decisions on when to fire are made by the director of the CIA. But aside from Obama’s presence at “Terror Tuesday” meetings — which generally are devoted to discussing terrorism threats and trends rather than approving targets — the president’s involvement is more indirect.
For what it’s worth, I gave up grass and switched to mulch - no more lawnmower.
Insofar as the American people support such programs and policies on the wrong assumption that it makes them safer, such programs will only be expanded. More: Salon, Lawfare
On the day of the attacks, I lived directly across the Hudson River from the twin towers, in downtown Jersey City, N.J. As the buildings burned and then collapsed, police shut down the entire Jersey City waterfront except for one small area, Morris Canal Park. The park had an unobstructed view, and I took a set of Polaroid shots of the disaster. Later, as a senior writer for the New Jersey Law Journal, I investigated the cases of the 762 Muslim men who were randomly rounded up by the FBI after the attack, cleared of being terrorists, but secretly deported anyway to the countries of their birth. Some of them were tortured by local authorities when they arrived. (via How My Polaroids Of The Sept. 11 Attacks Led Me Into America’s Secret Court System For Terrorist Suspects - Business Insider)