Targeted Killing

On the Unsurprising Continuation of Drone Strikes

By Robert Chesney
Saturday, August 3, 2013, 9:30 AM

There is an interesting article in the New York Times this morning, from Mark Mazzetti and Mark Landler, the thrust of which is captured by the headline: "Despite Administration Promises, Few Signs of Change in Drone Wars."  The article emphasizes the central role that the CIA continues to play in Yemen, for example, something that reportedly reflects, in part, the fact that Saudi Arabia has not and likely will not allow the existing CIA drone facility there to be placed under US military control.  But apart from who runs the drone program, there also is the simple fact that the use of lethal force continues in various locations outside Afghanistan.  This is not truly surprising.  As Jack noted just yesterday, the fact of the matter is that a number of AQ affiliates are doing increasingly well, and that at least some parts of the overall al Qaeda network remain interested in attacking US targets (as demonstrated by this weekend's much-reported alert warning of a possible attack on a US facility overseas).  And, as I argued in May at the time of the President's speech, the "continuing threat" self-defense model in any event largely encompasses status quo drone strike practices; there was never likely to be a sharp drop-off in drone strikes in light of the policies the president announced in that speech.