QUESTIONER: I think one of the things that I'm very interested in -- and perhaps we can try and sort of give some hint to the people, you know, questioning Brennan on Thursday -- is just how they come up with their kill lists and the fact that there is this very broad area that all these people fall into. And you know, I'm trying to recall which White House press spokesperson said, when asked about al-Awlaki's 16- year-old American son, who was killed alongside the magazine editor in a drone strike and the -- sort of the response to that, well, that's what you get when you hang out with your dad like that and, you know, the idea that someone has made a decision that this is the list, and these are the people on this list, and what kind of oversight there is or, you know, just what kind of accountability there is in terms of who's on the list and how that gets decided, like what their sort of prerequisites are. Thanks.
HOLEWINSKI: Go ahead, Micah. Do you want to go?
ZENKO: Yeah, sorry. Well, I mean, one thing to understand is that most of the individuals who have been killed by U.S. targeted killings -- and of the 400-plus targeted killings, 97 percent of them happened by drones, but not all of them by drones -- most of the individuals killed don't appear on a kill list, right? The kill list articles that emerged last spring were a really interesting smoke screen to get over the issue of signature strikes.
You know, most of the individuals who the United States kills, they're -- they don't go through a careful interagency vetting process.
So, a quote from an anti-war leftist pinko weak-is-better low readership blog or other outlet? Well - The CFR is who it is, and readers can weigh possible implications - but really, who calls the shots, on what basis, is a starting question in any sane review and commentary on drone "terrorist" killing policy. Yet CFR left that consideration to the questioning after its dog/pony analysis of open questions of general public interest.
Do the Saudi ruling family get to make up their list? The Pakistani military? The ISI? The Iranians in consort with the Israeli IDF and Mossad? Okay, some possibilities are remote but what about those not so? Questions need asking; where evasion over answering is its own form of answer. What were the "CIA annex" folks up to in Benghazi is a related or independent and parallel question, depending on what relation drone kill policy has with the annex activity while an Ambassador was being killed by an unhappy and/or incited ideological mob. Is listing for targeting aimed at totalitarian stifling of dissent? Retaliation? If that, for what, when? It seems in "in retrospect analyses" among officials in public discourse, good motive and efficiency are always ours. We are the story tellers.
The wheel that squeaks getting grease seems an out of fashion way of thinking of "terror" and no longer a best howto about warring against it. "We strike the enemy, in order to lessen his ability to harm us. We strike before he might strike us. Sentinels. Ever vigilant. Never free of due trepidation, always attempting avoidance of lapses, of inattention."
Sounds warming to the soul; but a shade too simplistic. Ambiguity in a never ending enemy has advantage. Unlike precision having a place there; precision in the surgery-like nature of OUR strikes is precision's place; an unquestioned given premise at all times?
In fact, technological capability seems the offered fare instead of policy setting of who's in for snuffing. We are surgically precise in the particulars of the snuffing operation; we say; but what about target determination? That nuanced give-and-take? Ambiguity - who gives, who takes in calling who's in for a snuffing, seems something that naturally would NOT go unquestioned. We live among attentive media or co-opted comfort seekers? You decide.