UndieBomb 2.0 Led to John Brennan’s Personal Signature Strike Drone Shop

The AP story reporting on John Brennan centralizing control of drone targeting in his own grubby paws keeps evolving. Compare the first two paragraphs of what I believe to be the second version (the first was really a leak from DOD sources describing Brennan’s power grab):

The Pentagon’s role in choosing terror leaders to be targeted for drone attacks or raids has been minimized in a new system developed by White House counterterror chief John Brennan. The current procedure concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones within one small team at the White House.

With Brennan’s team now in the lead, consulting with the State Department and other agencies as to who should go on the list, a previous military-run review process in place since 2009 has become less relevant, according to two current and three former U.S. officials aware of the evolution in how the government targets terrorists.

With the first three paragraphs  of what I believe to be the third version.

White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in guiding the debate on which terror leaders will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure to vet both military and CIA targets.

The move concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones at the White House.

The process, which is about a month old, means Brennan’s staff consults the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies as to who should go on the list, making a previous military-run review process in place since 2009 less relevant, according to two current and three former U.S. officials aware of the evolution in how the government targets terrorists. [my emphasis]

One of the new details is that date: “about a month old.”

That is, around April 22.

Which means this decision–to bypass DOD’s evidence based targeting process and instead have Brennan do it all from the White House–coincides with and was probably a part of the decision to do signature strikes, which in turn both appear to have followed the Saudi delivery of a bomb “plot” to justify the change. Here’s what the known timeline currently looks like:

April 18: Greg Miller first reports on debate over signature strikes

Around April 20: UndieBomb 2.0 device recovered

Around April 22: John Brennan takes over drone targeting from JSOC

April 22: Drone strike that–WSJ reports, “Intelligence analysts [worked] to identify those killed” after the fact, suggesting possible signature strike

April 24: Robert Mueller in Yemen for 45 minute meeting, presumably to pick up UndieBomb

April 25: WSJ reports that Obama approved use of signature strikes

April 30: John Brennan gives speech, purportedly bringing new transparency to drone program, without addressing signature strikes

May 6: Fahd al-Quso killed

May 7: AP reports on UndieBomb 2.0

May 8: ABC reports UndieBomb 2.0 was Saudi-run infiltrator

May 15: Drone strike in Jaar kills a number of civilians

Note, other reporting makes it clear the Saudis had contact with the 2.0 UndieBomber leading up to him coming in, with some reports saying Obama had notice as well.

In any case, the chronology seems to be clear: the 2.0 UndieBomber came in, then Brennan brought the drone targeting–now including signature strikes!–into the White House for micromanagement.

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4 Responses to UndieBomb 2.0 Led to John Brennan’s Personal Signature Strike Drone Shop

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel Rem: 5 yrs ago, Saudis assured us they wouldn't incur so many wanton CIVCAS bombing Houthis if we gave them drones. https://t.co/4gvUFjMuQA
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