Terrifying highlights from The Washington Post's new report on the Obama administration's drone-driven targeting killing program and the Obama-approved kill list — sorry, "disposition matrix" — that guides it:
We have a kill list with an Orwellian name: "Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the 'disposition matrix.' The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the 'disposition' of suspects beyond the reach of American drones."
The current list is intended as a starting point, and will be with us for a long time: "Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years."
We've killed a lot of people with drones already: "The number of militants and civilians killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by certain estimates, surpassing the number of people al-Qaeda killed in the Sept. 11 attacks."
We don't know how to stop killing people with drones: Counterterrorism experts said the reliance on targeted killing is self-perpetuating, yielding undeniable short-term results that may obscure long-term costs. 'The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower,' said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser. 'You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.'"
We're building a big, entrenched bureaucracy around our targeting killing operations: "Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it."
President Obama attends frightening-sounding weekly meetings to discuss terror threats: "Obama approves the criteria for lists and signs off on drone strikes outside Pakistan, where decisions on when to fire are made by the director of the CIA. But aside from Obama’s presence at 'Terror Tuesday' meetings — which generally are devoted to discussing terrorism threats and trends rather than approving targets — the president’s involvement is more indirect."
Obama also approves the names on the kill lists personally: "The lists are reviewed at regular three-month intervals during meetings at the NCTC headquarters that involve analysts from other organizations, including the CIA, the State Department and JSOC. Officials stress that these sessions don’t equate to approval for additions to kill lists, an authority that rests exclusively with the White House."
Read the entire Post story here.