WaPo on the “disposition matrix,” the CIA’s next-generation kill list

By Paul Mutter

The Washington Post‘s Greg Miller has begun a three-part series on the future of the Obama Administration’s counterterrorism drone strike program, which will include a “next-generation targeting list” (aka “kill list”) in the form of a “dipposition matrix”.

Though the White House, CIA, JSOC and ODNI declined comment requests, the article cites “dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others.”

Miller’s report somewhat contradicts the Obama Administration’s frequent assertions that al Qaeda is exhausted and on the run. The officials interviewed essentially offer a redux of the “War on Terror” methodology minus the renditions and speechifying. And, even while touting the success of the program, the Administration remains committed to “embedding” it in national security planning.

According to Miller, the program is meant to outlive the Obama Administration: “White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.”

The expansion of the US’s drone fleet and African operations were also noted, as was the US’s overall growing reliance on unarmed drone surveillance, now over Libya, and according to the Post, Iran. Meanwhile, The Diplomat notes the US is looking to create a more autonomous drone force that is less dependent on operator-control to carry out missions.

Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations reflects on President Obama’s institutionalization of “extrajudicial killings” in comparison to his predecessor’s more careful approach:

Having spoken with dozens of officials across both administrations, I am convinced that those serving under President Bush were actually much more conscious and thoughtful about the long-term implications of targeted killings than those serving under Obama. In part, this is because more Bush administration officials were affected by the U.S. Senate Select Committee investigation, led by Senator Frank Church, that implicated the United States in assassination plots against foreign leaders—including at least eight separate plans to kill Cuban president Fidel Castro—and President Ford’s Executive Order 11905: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.”

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