How the White House Fell in Love with Drone Warfare

How the White House Fell in Love with Drone Warfare

Interesting article from Reuters on the growth of drone warfare under the Obama administration.  One interesting note: drone attacks are being contemplated for Yemen, Somalia, and even against pirates.  Also, the key explanation for the Drone Wars appears to be the legal problems created by capturing, interrogating, and detaining individuals.

Some current and former counterterrorism officials say an unintended consequence of these decisions may be that capturing wanted militants has become a less viable option. As one official said: “There is nowhere to put them.”

A former U.S. intelligence official, who was involved in the process until recently, said: “I got the sense: ‘What the hell do we do with this guy if we get him?’ It’s not the primary consideration but it has to be a consideration.”

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Of particular interest to me in the Reuters story is the role of CIA lawyers in the targeting process:

“U.S. intelligence officials proudly tout the drone campaign as the most precise and possibly humane targeted killing program in the “history of warfare.”

The target selection process is a secret but, according to the former intelligence official, individuals who are nominated to be “high-value targets” must be vetted by CIA lawyers to determine if they pose “a continuing and imminent threat.”

An official who has watched several drone strikes recalled the precision with which a CIA operator focused one of the drone’s cameras on its target, identifying the wanted man by his missing left arm. A lawyer is always present, he said. “
Bush had his “torture lawyers.” Now Obama has his “drone lawyers” Or is “predator lawyer” a more apt (but perhaps redundant) description of these members of the bar?