Skip to main content

The US drone assassinations

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.

The Kill Chain

Key points:

  • Both the Pentagon and the National Security Council declined to respond to detailed questions about the study and about the drone program more generally. The NSC would not say if the process for approving targets or strikes had changed since the study was produced.

  • ... intelligence personnel from JSOC’s Task Force 48-4, working alongside other intelligence agencies, would build the case for action against an individual, eventually generating a “baseball card” on the target, which was “staffed up to higher echelons — ultimately to the president.” The intelligence package on the person being targeted passed from the JSOC task force tracking him to the command in charge of the region — Centcom for Yemen, and Africom for Somalia — and then to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, followed by the secretary of defense. It was then examined by a circle of top advisers known as the Principals Committee of the National Security Council, and their seconds in command, known collectively as the Deputies Committee.

  • ... the kill chain indicates that while Obama approved each target, he did not approve each individual strike, although news accounts have previously reported that the president personally “signs off” on strikes outside of Afghanistan or Pakistan.

  • There have been various accounts of this drone bureaucracy, and almost all stress the role of Obama’s influential counterterrorism adviser John Brennan (who became director of the CIA in 2013) and of top administration lawyers in deciding who could be killed. Under Brennan, the nominations process was reportedly concentrated in the White House, replacing video conferences once run by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and elevating the role of the National Counterterrorism Center in organizing intelligence. Later in 2013, the White House reportedly tightened control over individual strikes in Yemen.

  • At the time of the study, with the president’s approval, JSOC had a 60-day window to hit a target. For the actual strike, the task force needed approval from the Geographic Combatant Command as well as the ambassador and CIA station chief in the country where the target was located. For a very important target, such as al Qaeda-linked preacher Anwar al Awlaki, who was a U.S. citizen, “it would take a high-level official to approve the strike,” said Lt. Col. Mark McCurley, a former drone pilot who worked on operations in Yemen and recently published a book about his experiences. “And that includes a lot of lawyers and a lot of review at different levels to reach that decision. We have an extensive chain of command, humans along the whole link that monitor the entire process from start to finish on an airstrike.” The country’s government was also supposed to sign off. “One Disagrees = STOP,” ...

  • In practice, the degree of cooperation with the host nation has varied. Somalia’s minister of national security, Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, told The Intercept that the United States alerted Somalia’s president and foreign minister of strikes “sometimes ahead of time, sometimes during the operation … normally we get advance notice.” He said he was unaware of an instance where Somali officials had objected to a strike, but added that if they did, he assumed the U.S. would respect Somalia’s sovereignty.

  • Today, with Yemen’s capital under the control of the Houthi rebel group and undergoing bombardment by Saudi Arabia, administration lawyers do not seem worried about asking permission to carry out drone strikes amid the fray. “Now, I think they don’t even bother telling anyone. There is really no one in charge to tell,” said the former Yemeni official, who requested anonymity citing current unrest and the fact that he no longer works for the government.

  • The two-month window for striking, says Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, shows the administration’s broad interpretation of “a continuing, imminent threat.” “If you have approval over a monthslong period, that sends the signal of a presumption that someone is always targetable, regardless of whether they are actually participating in hostilities,” said Shamsi.

  • The study does not contain an overall count of strikes or deaths, but it does note that “relatively few high-level terrorists meet criteria for targeting” and states that at the end of June 2012, there were 16 authorized targets in Yemen and only four in Somalia. Despite the small number of people on the kill list, in 2011 and 2012 there were at least 54 U.S. drone strikes and other attacks reported in Yemen, killing a minimum of 293 people, including 55 civilians, according to figures compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. In Somalia, there were at least three attacks, resulting in the deaths of at minimum six people.

  • Some of those Yemen strikes were likely carried out by the CIA, which since mid-2011 has flown drones to Yemen from a base in Saudi Arabia and reportedly has its own kill list and rules for strikes. Yet it is also clear that the military sometimes harmed multiple other people in trying to kill one of those high-level targets.

  • The large number of reported strikes may also be a reflection of signature strikes in Yemen, where people can be targeted based on patterns of suspect behavior. In 2012, administration officials said that President Obama had approved strikes in Yemen on unknown people, calling them TADS, or “terror attack disruption strikes,” and claiming that they were more constrained than the CIA’s signature strikes in Pakistan.

  • Identifying the correct target relates directly to the issue of civilian casualties: If you don’t have certainty about your target, it follows that you may well be killing innocent people. In Iraq and Afghanistan, “when collateral damage did occur, 70 percent of the time it was attributable to failed — that is, mistaken — identification,” according to a paper by Gregory McNeal, an expert on drones and security at Pepperdine School of Law.

  • If the 60-day authorization expired, analysts would have to start all over in building the intelligence case against the target, said a former senior special operations officer, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing classified materials. That could lead to pressure to take a shot while the window was open.

  • ... there were multiple well-reported, high-profile incidents in which reported JSOC strikes killed the wrong people. Perhaps most famously, in October 2011, a 16-year-old U.S. citizen named Abdulrahman Awlaki, the son of Anwar al Awlaki, died in a JSOC strike while eating dinner with his cousins, two weeks after his father was killed by a CIA drone. In press accounts, one anonymous official called Abdulrahman’s death “an outrageous mistake,” while others said he was with people believed to be members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Publicly, the government has said only that he “was not specifically targeted.”

  • A September 2012 strike in Yemen, extensively investigated by Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Foundations, killed 12 civilians, including three children and a pregnant woman. No alleged militants died in the strike, and the Yemeni government paid restitution for it, but the United States never offered an explanation.

  • The mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of the people who were killed in these drones strikes want to know why,” said Amrit Singh, senior legal officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative.We’re left with no explanation as to why they were targeted and in most cases no compensation, and the families are aware of no investigation.

  • This spring, in a rare admission of a mistake in targeting, the White House announced that two hostages held by al Qaeda — an American and an Italian — had been killed in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan in January. In attempting to explain the tragedy, the White House spokesperson used the language of the standards that had failed to prevent it: The hostages had died despite “near certainty,” after “near continuous surveillance,” that they were not present.

Full report, diagrams:


Previously:


Read also:










Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trump's "brigades" are ready to start a civil war in case he loses November's election

globinfo freexchange
Signs show an extremely explosive situation now in the America of Donald Trump. 
Starting with the murder of George Floyd, we witness almost in daily basis some very disturbing incidents, which unveil a deeply divided society that was hiding for decades behind the "American dream" facade. As the facade now rapidly collapses, due to a major financial crisis and a pandemic, in less than fifteen years, the reality looks terrifying.
In a latest incident, Common Dreamsreported that members of a far right militia group were arrested Monday evening in Albuquerque after a standoff at a statue of a notoriously brutal conquistador in the New Mexico city turned violent with a demonstrator advocating for the removal of the monument shot and sent to the hospital.
As dusk fell, demonstrators began attempting to pull the monument down from its pedestal on the Albuquerque Museum grounds. At that point, members of the New Mexico Civil Guard militia group moved in, attack…

Αντίο δημόσια, δωρεάν παιδεία ...

globinfo freexchange
Μετά τα σχέδια για ιδιωτικοποίηση του νερού, το Μητσοτακικό καθεστώς ετοιμάζεται να ισοπεδώσει με το νεοφιλελεύθερο "οδοστρωτήρα" και τη δημόσια παιδεία.
Από τη χθεσινή ομιλία Κεραμέως στη βουλή, το μόνο που χρειάζεται να κρατήσετε είναι η εξής φράση:
                        Εμείς, λοιπόν, κάνουμε πράξη τη δέσμευσή μας, για πανεπιστήμια πιο ελεύθερα και αυτόνομα. Για πανεπιστήμια, τα οποία μπορούν να ρυθμίζουν τα του οίκου τους.

Όταν ακούτε έννοιες όπως "ελευθερία", "αυτονομία" και "αυτορρύθμιση", να βγαίνουν από στόματα φανατικών νεοφιλελεύθερων, όπως των στελεχών της κυβέρνησης Μητσοτάκη, να ετοιμάζεστε για ιδιωτικοποιήσεις, ξεπουλήματα και όλες τις επακόλουθες συμφορές. 
Πίσω από τα ωραία λόγια της Κεραμέως, κρύβονται οι αληθινές προθέσεις του καθεστώτος και για τον τομέα της παιδείας. Δηλαδή, σταδιακή ιδιωτικοποίηση των δημόσιων πανεπιστημίων και τελειωτικό χτύπημα στη δημόσια, δωρεάν παιδεία.
Απ'ότι φαίνεται και μ…

Protests against police violence expand in Europe

RT America
It began in Minneapolis but has since spread across the US, and now the world. The death of George Floyd has sparked protests against police brutality and chants of Black Lives Matter. Former UK MP George Galloway and Pulitzer prize-winning  journalist and host of On Contact Chris Hedges join In Question to discuss.

Exclusive images from inside British court expose Assange’s un-democratic treatment, physical deterioration

Photographs surreptitiously taken inside a British courtroom and provided to The Grayzone show a visibly disoriented Julian Assange confined to a glass cage and unable to communicate with his lawyers.
by Max Blumenthal
Part 4 - Assange’s hearing postponed, his isolation extended
The Belmarsh supermax prison where Assange has been held is regarded as the UK’s version of the US facility at Guantanamo. Aside from Assange, the jail is home to mafia henchmen, al-Qaeda members, and neo-fascist enforcers like Tommy Robinson. Around 20 percent of prisoners in Belmarsh are murderers, and two-thirds have committed a violent crime.
117 licensed medical professionals from around the world have written to the British and Australian governments to condemn “the torture of Assange,” “the denial of his fundamental right to appropriate health care,the climate of fear surrounding the provision of health care to him” and “the violations of his right to doctor–patient confidentiality.
Since the doctors’ …

Η κυβέρνηση Μητσοτάκη ετοιμάζει το μεγάλο ξεπούλημα του νερού

globinfo freexchange
Ήταν θέμα χρόνου. Η ιδιωτικοποίηση του νερού δεν θα μπορούσε να ξεφύγει από τα νύχια των νεοφιλελεύθερων αρπακτικών της κυβέρνησης Μητσοτάκη, η οποία φαίνεται να έχει ξεκινήσει τις υπόγειες διαδικασίες για ακόμα ένα μεγάλο ξεπούλημα στους ιδιώτες. Και μάλιστα, το ξεπούλημα του πολυτιμότερου αγαθού που θα έπρεπε να είναι ελεύθερο και δημόσιο.
Όπως αναφέρεται σε ρεπορτάζ του tvxs.gr:

Την ιδιωτικοποίηση μέσω σύμπραξης δημοσίου και ιδιωτικού δικαίου (ΣΔΙΤ) όλου του εξωτερικού υδροδοτικού συστήματος της Αττικής φαίνεται πως μεθοδευει η κυβέρνηση, προκαλώντας έντονες αντιδράσεις εκ μέρους των εργαζομένων της ΕΥΔΑΠ κι όχι μόνο. 
[...]
«Στην ουσία απομειώνεται την περιουσία της ΕΥΔΑΠ, καθώς της παίρνουν από τα χέρια όλα αυτά τα υδάτινα αποθέματα. Δεν είναι εύκολο να έρθει μια εταιρεία μικρή και να τα διαχειριστεί όλα αυτά. Δεν ξέρω κατά πόσο, παίρνοντας από την ΕΥΔΑΠ, θα διασφαλιστεί η αδιάλειπτη παροχή νερού στην Αττική» σημειώνει μιλώντας στο tvxs ο εκπρόσωπος…

Pentagon war game includes scenario for military response to domestic Gen Z rebellion

by Nick Turse
In the face of protests composed largely of young people, the presence of America’s military on the streets of major cities has been a controversial development. But this isn’t the first time that Generation Z — those born after 1996 — has popped up on the Pentagon’s radar.
Documents obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a Pentagon war game, called the 2018 Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program, or JLASS, offered a scenario in which members of Generation Z, driven by malaise and discontent, launch a “Zbellion” in America in the mid-2020s.
The Zbellion plot was a small part of JLASS 2018, which also featured scenarios involving Islamist militants in Africa, anti-capitalist extremists, and ISIS successors. The war game was conducted by students and faculty from the U.S. military’s war colleges, the training grounds for prospective generals and admirals. While it is explicitly not a national intelligence estimate, the war game, …

Σκάνδαλο Novartis: Λοβέρδος, Πατούλης, Στουρνάρας στο μικροσκόπιο του FBI από το 2017

Σε "αυτοχειρία" εξελίσσεται η επιλογή του Ιωάννη Αγγελή να διαβιβάσει στη Βουλή αναφορές του FBI για την υπόθεση Νovartis, από το υλικό που έχει υπεξαιρέσει από το γραφείο της Εισαγγελέως Διαφθοράς Ελένης Τουλουπάκη. 
Τα εγγραφα των αμερικανικών αρχών, που κατατέθηκαν από τον Αντιεισαγγελέα του Αρείου Πάγου την Τετάρτη, διέρρευσαν στο  τύπο και  πιστοποιούν την ουσία του σκανδάλου Novartis, δηλαδή το συστηματικό χρηματισμό γιατρών και πολιτικών προσώπων και τις μεθόδους με τις οποίες η Novartis αναλάμβανε να αυξήσει τις τιμές και τα έσοδα από συγκεκριμένα projects σκευασμάτων όπως το Lucentis, το Exactly ή το Ηarvard Project. 
Τα έγγραφα δείχνουν ακριβώς τη διαδικασία εξαγοράς γιατρών καθώς και τις μεθόδους που χρησιμοποιούσαν με τους κυβερνητικούς αξιωματούχους αλλά περιγράφει με λεπτομέρειες και τον τρόπο με τον οποίο διάφορες εταιρίες επικοινωνίας και ΜΜΕ αναλάμβαναν να "ξεπλένουν" μαύρο χρήμα μέσω εικονικών τιμολογήσεων, όπως το γκρουπ του Μαυρίκου, του Βουλκί…

New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.
by Max Blumenthal
I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019
Part 9 - Spying, stealing diapers, and burglary plans
Stefania Maurizi, an Italian journalist who visited Assange regularly at the embassy in London, remembered relaxed encounters with minimal security and friendly interactions with embassy staff for the first five years of the Wikileaks founder’s stay. It was in December 2017 that everything changed.
During a visit to interview Assange that month, the Spanish security guards from UC Global demanded Maurizi hand over her backpack and all belongings inside for the first time. She protested the new and seemingly arbitrary procedure, but to no avail. 

Hong Kong’s ‘pro-democracy’ movement allies with far-right US politicians that seek to crush Black Lives Matter

As a Hong Kong protest leader promotes far-right condemnations of US anti-racism demonstrations and activists shut down a Black Lives Matter rally in the city, Hong Kong organizers forge close ties with hardline Republicans in Washington.
by Ajit Singh
Part 4 - Hong Kong’s opposition aligned with same far-right US politicians repressing Black Lives Matter
There are some within Hong Kong’s “pro-democracy” movement who have issued statements expressing support for the protests taking place in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement, arguing that both movements are engaged in a shared struggle against oppression and police brutality. 
Joshua Wong, a poster-boy for the Hong Kong protests, along with Nathan Law and other leading members of his political party, Demosistō, have stated that they stand with Black Lives Matter. “Many of you have asked me about the ongoing U.S. protests” wrote Wong in a June 2 tweet. “As a human-rights activist, I stand firmly on the side of the #BlackLivesMat…

The US imperialist machine calls for a G-7 expansion to tackle China's 5G penetration in its Western sphere of influence

globinfo freexchange

The US imperialist machine openly calls Western allies (and particularly the UK), to sabotage China's economic and technological penetration in its Western sphere of influence, through a Foreign Policyarticle.

Although the article adopts Trump-style anti-Chinese propaganda, it is clear that the US imperialists have difficulties to accept Trump's inconvenient proposal regarding the expansion of G-7, because it includes "hostile" Russia.

Instead, they think that London's proposal regarding the expansion of G-7 (into D-10), is the most appropriate.

Although according to the article, "The D-10 is not an anti-China alliance.", its hawkish style is more than evident, as can be depicted with that "United Kingdom's D-10 is the right size and shape ... covering only the Cold War West.", for a start.

Furthermore, according to the article, the UK appears to be the most suitable, among the US allies, to lead the race against China…