Obama’s Signature

Obama’s signature national security policy may well be the embrace of signature strikes. First in Pakistan–until they killed 38 civilians in Shiga, Pakistan, and had to rethink the strategy–and now, according to the WSJ, in Yemen.

The Obama administration has given the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military greater leeway to target suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen with drones, responding to worries a new haven is being established from which to mount attacks on the West.

Mind you, the anonymous sources in this story claim this is “signature lite.” Targets need to fit the profile of High Value Targets, sources claim, to be targeted.

But Obama’s (IMO) ill-considered decision is not the most interesting part of this story.

Rather, it’s a detail that directly contradicts with the WaPo’s version of this story (besides the timing, which also suggested the decision had not yet been made, though it may have been made since). The WaPo said JSOC wasn’t all that interested in having these authorities.

The JSOC has broader authority than the CIA to pursue militants in Yemen and is not seeking permission to use signature strikes, U.S. officials said.

WSJ says JSOC did ask.

The CIA and JSOC asked last year for broader targeting powers, however, which would include leeway to conduct what are known as “signature strikes,” in which targets are identified based on patterns of behavior, such as surveillance showing they are transporting weapons.

[snip]

Recently the CIA and JSOC, citing the fears about an al Qaeda haven, renewed requests to the White House.

Perhaps the most interesting bit, though, is this backwards discussion of how you need to use signature strikes to avoid border incursions against a legitimate defensive issue.

U.S. counterterrorism officials said they are currently tracking several direct threats to the U.S. connected to AQAP. The officials wouldn’t provide further details because that information is classified.

[snip]

Administration officials said the White House has no plans to allow strikes in Yemen to be as broad as those in Pakistan. CIA strikes against low-level fighters in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, are meant to prevent them from crossing the border into neighboring Afghanistan, where they are waging an insurgency against U.S. and Afghan forces.

“This is distinct from the FATA,” a senior administration official said of Yemen. “We’re using these tools judiciously and carefully to scope this as a counterterrorism effort and not an all-out counter-insurgency campaign.”

Granted, US sources claim that this use of signatures is different than the FATA and Pakistan. But given that I suspect the Saudis may be dictating this change to us, I’m rather interested in the suggestion that border incursions present the need to use signature strikes.

Because these are, after all, happening across the border from the Saudis.

Tweet about this on Twitter1Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook1Google+0Email to someone

19 Responses to Obama’s Signature

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @Krhawkins5 I think they are willing to make noise, but never have the guts to pull the trigger or go full Mike Gravel.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @Krhawkins5 Not impossible, but remember all the noise Wyden+Udall made re NSA and, yet, never really did anything big.
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @ColMorrisDavis @MarkUdall @RonWyden This is bullshit; it is not happening. SSCI won't go for it+trigger won't get pulled.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @lisang: Oh my god. This is where all the int'l media have their offices. MT @iFalasteen: Journalist building is burning now. http://t.c…
2hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @GregMitch: @jaketapper Jake, why not try "U.S. jets meant for defense of Israel now export death to Gaza"?
2hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @onekade: Israel pummels Gaza with bombs and meanwhile @jaketapper defends his trash hasbara piece on tunnels. What a disgusting display.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @onekade: Israel is deliberating targeting civilians with bombs that we US taxpayers purchased. Detroit needs water, but we pay for slau…
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @sarahjeong Um. Maybe @xor is trying to trick you into unfollowing mid-Bar. That would not be good.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @sarahjeong Still, nothing you can't kick the shit out of.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @sarahjeong Wait. You can't bring your multidecals into a test for 3 days? Nutty.
3hreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel This time tomorrow (or thereabouts) @sarahjeong will have nothing left to do before she can sue your ass but practice trolling--good luck!
3hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @RaysBaseball: Lead: acquired. @jamesloney_7 puts #RaysUp 2-1 on @Brewers with a bases-loaded single! Stretches his streak to 17 games r…
4hreplyretweetfavorite
April 2012
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930