The CIA is looking for new authority in its drone war in Yemen. The CIA wants to launch “strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who will be killed,” the Washington Post reports.
It’s hard to tell that that’s actually new authority. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald pointed out that CIA drones already target mourners at funerals of drone casualties.
What would the “new” authority allow the CIA to do? From the Post:
Securing permission to use “signature strikes” would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.
These “signature strikes” are supposed to be “surgical” too but, of course, they’re not. As for authority, the CIA is requesting it from the National Security Council. Because the suspects the government is killing with drones are of the terrorist variety, the entire process is clouded in secrecy. Just trust us, the President says, “ this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”
And though the President may not use the term “war on terror,” he happily signs legislation that defines that war as global and indefinite. So while the CIA’s authority to kill suspects from machines in the sky may be “new,” expansions of the war at home come pre-approved.