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The Kill or Capture List

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Thursday, October 6, 2011 at 3:21 PM

The oral argument for the Al-Zahrani case, about which Ben just posted, took up much of my morning, so expect Headlines and Commentary tomorrow. But in the meantime, I wanted to share this very interesting article, which discusses the National Security Council panel which decides who is placed on the “kill or capture” list. The process was revealed by Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee:

The process involves “going through the National Security Council, then it eventually goes to the president, but the National Security Council does the investigation, they have lawyers, they review, they look at the situation, you have input from the military, and also, we make sure that we follow international law,” Ruppersberger said.

Reuters reporter Mark Hosenball interviewed other ‘officials’ about the process for adding individuals to the list:

They said targeting recommendations are drawn up by a committee of mid-level National Security Council and agency officials. Their recommendations are then sent to the panel of NSC “principals,” meaning Cabinet secretaries and intelligence unit chiefs, for approval. The panel of principals could have different memberships when considering different operational issues, they said.

On Obama’s role in the list:

…Obama was not required personally to approve the targeting of a person. But one official said Obama would be notified of the principals’ decision. If he objected, the decision would be nullified, the official said.

Of particular interest are the last two paragraphs, which read:

U.S. officials contrast intelligence suggesting Awlaki’s involvement in specific plots with the activities of Adam Gadahn, an American citizen who became a principal English-language propagandist for the core al Qaeda network formerly led by Osama bin Laden.

While Gadahn appeared in angry videos calling for attacks on the United States, officials said he had not been specifically targeted for capture or killing by U.S. forces because he was regarded as a loudmouth not directly involved in plotting attacks.

Definitely worth a read.

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