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Who will drones target? Who in the US will decide?

May 22, 2012 • National News


FILE – In this Sept. 7, 2011 file photo, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan speaks in Washington. The Pentagon is likely to be largely sidelined from decisions on which terror leaders are targeted for drone attacks. The plan, aimed at streamlining the counterterror war, would concentrate the power to strike with lethal U.S. force outside war zones within one small team at the White House. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in guiding the debate on which terror leaders will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure to vet both military and CIA targets.

The move concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones at the White House.

The process, which is about a month old, means Brennan’s staff consults the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies as to who should go on the list, making a previous military-run review process in place since 2009 less relevant, according to two current and three former U.S. officials aware of the evolution in how the government targets terrorists.

In describing Brennan’s arrangement to The Associated Press, the officials provided the first detailed description of the military’s previous review process that set a schedule for killing or capturing terror leaders around the Arab world and beyond. They spoke on condition of anonymity because U.S. officials are not allowed to publicly describe the classified targeting program.

One senior administration official argues that Brennan’s move adds another layer of review that augments rather than detracts from the Pentagon’s role. The official says that in fact there will be more people at the table making the decisions, Login to read more

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