NYT: Obama personally overseeing U.S. intel’s Al Qaeda “kill list”

posted at 4:01 pm on May 29, 2012 by Allahpundit

A dynamite piece, well worth 10 minutes of your time. In fact, there’s no better proof of just how far O’s “evolved” from his 2008 counterterror posture to the “Cheney lite” figure we know today than the number of sources who cooperated with the Times on this story. This isn’t just one “senior administration official” blabbing to a reporter about how the White House handles terror targets; this is “three dozen of his current and former advisers,” including Dennis Blair and Bill Daley on the record, cooperating. They want people to know about this, likely for two reasons. One: It’s a bit of transparency to try to pacify critics of the process, not unlike the NYT story from last October that revealed the basic thrust of the OLC memo that approved the targeting of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. By releasing dribs and drabs of info to the Times instead of the underlying materials themselves, the White House keeps one foot in the “disclosure” camp and the other in the secrecy camp. Two: It’s a way to boost the campaign narrative of Obama as the strong, decisive leader who’s pummeling Al Qaeda. Remember, after he spiked the football on the anniversary of the Bin Laden killing, he was criticized for taking credit that rightfully belonged entirely to the SEALs. This piece is an implicit rebuttal: He’s more hands-on than you’d think. Savor the irony that the guy whom the left elected as a repudiation of Bush/Cheney is now using the NYT to make sure that people know he’s personally giving the thumbs-down to jihadis in the Oval Office.

There are too many interesting passages for the standard three-paragraph blockquote so let me snatch a few of the more intriguing details for you. First, how O used squirrelly weasel words in his executive order banning rendition to make sure that, er, rendition wasn’t banned:

“The way this is written, you are going to take us out of the rendition business,” Mr. Rizzo told Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s White House counsel, referring to the much-criticized practice of grabbing a terrorist suspect abroad and delivering him to another country for interrogation or trial. The problem, Mr. Rizzo explained, was that the C.I.A. sometimes held such suspects for a day or two while awaiting a flight. The order appeared to outlaw that.

Mr. Craig assured him that the new president had no intention of ending rendition — only its abuse, which could lead to American complicity in torture abroad. So a new definition of “detention facility” was inserted, excluding places used to hold people “on a short-term, transitory basis.” Problem solved — and no messy public explanation damped Mr. Obama’s celebration.

If you’ve ever wondered why those drone strikes in Pakistan are so good at avoiding civilian casualties, wonder no longer:

It is also because Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent…

[I]n interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number [of civilian casualties] could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

According to former Obama NSA Gen. James Jones, they’ve waved off plenty of attacks at the 11th hour for fear of civilian casualties — but not always (Taliban capo Baitullah Mehsud was targeted despite being with his wife at the time). Their rule of thumb seems to be that they’ll cancel an attack if women or children are around unless the jihadi being targeted is especially important. If Ayman Zawahiri’s driver is spotted with his young son, I’d bet he’d be spared. The big Z himself, not so much.

Finally, a revealing insight into how Obama’s dislike for basic retail politics helps thwart his policy ambitions:

General Jones said the president and his aides had assumed that closing the prison [Gitmo] was “a no-brainer — the United States will look good around the world.” The trouble was, he added, “nobody asked, ‘O.K., let’s assume it’s a good idea, how are you going to do this?’ “

It was not only Mr. Obama’s distaste for legislative backslapping and arm-twisting, but also part of a deeper pattern, said an administration official who has watched him closely: the president seemed to have “a sense that if he sketches a vision, it will happen — without his really having thought through the mechanism by which it will happen.”

That’s the story of “hope and change” from 2008 until now in a perfect little nutshell. As I say, read it all or you’ll miss the details I left out, including one of Bush’s lawyers marveling at how much more comfortable with Gitmo the world became in January 2009 and the fact that David Axelrod, of all people, had taken to sitting in on Obama’s terror briefings. How much input did he have on whether to target a particular terrorist (e.g., another U.S. citizen like Awlaki) if it might prove “problematic” for November? See why I think they had a political angle in leaking so much of this to the Times?

Via Mediaite, here’s Joe Scarborough fretting over the fact that O is personally approving targets on the “kill list.” Actually, I think it’d be more worrisome if he wasn’t personally approving them but was farming them out entirely to bureaucrats. By leaving his own fingerprints on the decision to strike, he’s making himself more accountable to voters. This way, if something goes horribly wrong, he can’t play dumb and pretend that it was done without his permission.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Wow more make believe from the NYT
Shocking /sarc

Conservative4ev on May 29, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Democrats being “deceptive”? Earth shattering news…

kirkill on May 29, 2012 at 5:13 PM

“Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants”

So if they run they are Al Qaeda and if they don’t run they are well disciplined Al Qaeda.

DANEgerus on May 29, 2012 at 5:14 PM

When does Mattel or Hasbro come out with the President Obama Action figure with movable wrist with the Thumb up or Thumb down movement?

portlandon on May 29, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Heh!

jazzuscounty on May 29, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Does it mean that Ron Paul supporters cannot vote for Obama now?
Archivarix on May 29, 2012 at 4:09 PM

DING DING DING!!!!!

Although many here swear that I am an Obamabot. Go figure.

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 29, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Killing Bin Laden is the ONLY thing that Obama can brag about. Killing bad guys is almost the ONLY thing that he can do to make himself look good. Don’t be surprised if he does something to Iran or Syria to make himself look “presidential.”

mydh12 on May 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM

AP,

You should’ve used this photo of LBJ in the Situation Room micromanaging the Vietnam War.

Christien on May 29, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Christien:Good catch,What Old is New again!:)

canopfor on May 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM

This way, if something goes horribly wrong, he can’t play dumb and pretend that it was done without his permission.

Ho, ho, ho!!!
Guffaw!
You make me laugh out loud, AP.
Spill my drink, I did.

You don’t honestly believe that if something went horribly wrong, he would stand up and accept full responsibility, do you?

connertown on May 29, 2012 at 5:23 PM

preallocated on May 29, 2012 at 5:02 PM

That, can’t be real.

Sir Napsalot on May 29, 2012 at 5:28 PM

The banality of evil: Obama and his **** list. Evil man. If the DNC had any decency, any at all, they’d be hounding the guy all the way to Levenworth. What’s evil is that they’re so keen on the guy, despite the obvious.

Lourdes on May 29, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Wait. First if GWB did this, there’d be screaming to no end. Second – I thought he ran against this sort of thing. Amazing what that magic ‘D’ can let you get away with.

Sharr on May 29, 2012 at 5:43 PM

I don’t believe this for a second. This is all politics.

ladyingray on May 29, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Shouldn’t he be spending his time worrying about the economy, instead?

CoolCzech on May 29, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Does it mean that Ron Paul supporters cannot vote for Obama now?
Archivarix on May 29, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Not on Paul’s or his supporters’ radar…

RP is still having night sweats about the Santorum primary campaign…

shinty on May 29, 2012 at 5:58 PM

A detail , not a single word about Biden , but Clinton is injected many times.

the_nile on May 29, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Shouldn’t he be spending his time worrying about the economy, instead?

CoolCzech on May 29, 2012 at 5:58 PM

You said gay marriage?

the_nile on May 29, 2012 at 6:01 PM

This reminds me of the SNL skit that depicted Reagan masterminding the entire Iran-Contra Arms for cash deals in Farsi…

Deafdog on May 29, 2012 at 6:02 PM

… Joe Scarborough fretting over the fact that O is personally approving targets on the “kill list.” Actually, I think it’d be more worrisome if he wasn’t personally approving them but was farming them out entirely to bureaucrats.

Bingo. Constitutional ignorance from a former Congressman, yet. Of course, Congress completely rolled over and was Obama’s poodle after his shocking power grab over Libya.

After Al Awlaki was killed, Reuters came out with a story that seemed to indicate that the CIA was running the show without Obama’s approval. http://reut.rs/odCH8s

It’s bad enough that the Executive is now prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner in complete opposition to the Constitution’s Article 3 Section 3. At least they can make the “it’s wartime rules argument” now that the President himself seems to be giving the order to vaporize American citizens, although it begs the question, when does the war end?

Arms Merchant on May 29, 2012 at 6:02 PM

Another Peace Prize.

Grunt on May 29, 2012 at 6:05 PM

It worries me that a man having “no sand nor character… not even bad character,” is ordering individual executions all week.

Not to mention sending weapons to Mexican narco-terrorists, knowing what that would lead to, in the hope of framing Americans to diminish our rights.

Akzed on May 29, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Damn, this Nobel Peace Prize winnin, Muzzie drone killin Prez is awesome . . .

BigAlSouth on May 29, 2012 at 6:28 PM

disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent…

GUILTY until proven innocent.
Kind of the same mind set as being used with George Zimmerman.

OT: Do you think Obama would let Travon into the Choom gang? I mean he would be just like his dad if he was Obama’s son….

mechkiller_k on May 29, 2012 at 6:28 PM

Tri semester baby killer, Job killer, Smokin Buzz killer, Republic killer, Initiative killer, etc, etc, hey we found his talent!

steveracer on May 29, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Killing Bin Laden is the ONLY thing that Obama can brag about. Killing bad guys is almost the ONLY thing that he can do to make himself look good. Don’t be surprised if he does something to Iran or Syria to make himself look “presidential.”

mydh12 on May 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Right – because we all know that Bush … aside from his war endeavors … had LOTS to brag about …

- He cut spending, oh wait – no he didn’t, he ran us deeper into debt.

- He cut government, oh wait – no he didn’t, he vastly expanded government and gave us new (unfunded) entitlements like Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind!

- He fixed Freddie and Fannie, oh wait – no he didn’t – he allowed the Dimmocrits and the Olympia Snowe wing of the GOP to bully him on that.

- He left office with a great economy – oh wait, no he didn’t – he left us with the worst recession since the depression.

HondaV65 on May 29, 2012 at 6:35 PM

We may not like it that terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen, but he was, and having Obama target him overseas without a trial throws our basic protections as stated in the Constitution out the window.

And what about his 16-year-old son who was killed along with him?

Is anyone else as horrified as I am that the US Government targeted one of its own citizens for execution without a trial?

Obama decided long ago that the Constitution doesn’t apply to him and he can do anything he wants, whenever he wants to.

I really wonder sometimes if he’ll really step down quietly if he loses in November. He’s been acting like Hugo Chavez and that would be the next step.

Common Sense on May 29, 2012 at 6:37 PM

It worries me that a man having “no sand nor character… not even bad character,” is ordering individual executions all week.

Akzed on May 29, 2012 at 6:28 PM

You didn’t have a problem with it when Bush was doing it.

HondaV65 on May 29, 2012 at 6:37 PM

It worries me that a man having “no sand nor character… not even bad character,” is ordering individual executions all week.

Akzed on May 29, 2012 at 6:28 PM

You didn’t have a problem with it when Bush was doing it.

HondaV65 on May 29, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Bush has character.

O’bama doesn’t.

H-

Del Dolemonte on May 29, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Killing Bin Laden is the ONLY thing that Obama can brag about. Killing bad guys is almost the ONLY thing that he can do to make himself look good. Don’t be surprised if he does something to Iran or Syria to make himself look “presidential.”

mydh12 on May 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Right – because we all know that Bush … aside from his war endeavors … had LOTS to brag about …

- He cut spending, oh wait – no he didn’t, he ran us deeper into debt.

- He cut government, oh wait – no he didn’t, he vastly expanded government and gave us new (unfunded) entitlements like Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind!

- He fixed Freddie and Fannie, oh wait – no he didn’t – he allowed the Dimmocrits and the Olympia Snowe wing of the GOP to bully him on that.

- He left office with a great economy – oh wait, no he didn’t – he left us with the worst recession since the depression.

HondaV65 on May 29, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Bush isn’t President any more, and isn’t running for President in 2012.

H-

Del Dolemonte on May 29, 2012 at 6:51 PM

OT: RE: Choom gang – interceptions
“Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit.”

interceptions = bogart (Verb. To selfishly hold on to something.)

From Harry Potter: boggart
A boggart is a shape-shifting creature that takes on the form of the viewer’s worst fears.

Stay with me here………

-taking things out of turn
-selfish
-”Kill List” (“Death Panals”, “Kill failed abortion survivors”)
-shape-shifting (changeing, evolveing ??)
-worst fears

I think I am close to something here, but I can not seem to articulate it…

mechkiller_k on May 29, 2012 at 6:59 PM

As long as they aren’t being waterboarded, right proggies?

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Obama IS Commander in Chief (like it or not) he’s doing his job. . .The big question is would Mittens have the BALL$ to do it too? Neither are qualified in my opinion.

NOMITTNOBAMA 2012!

It’s not too late . . .draft Perry/West 2012

Pragmatic on May 29, 2012 at 7:00 PM

What’s Mittens’ talent? Going to France? Bain Capital is a legitimate capitalist business but can Romney help create jobs?

Perry/West 2012
NOW more than ever!

Pragmatic on May 29, 2012 at 7:02 PM

draft Perry/West 2012

Pragmatic on May 29, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Oh, there you are Perry.

mechkiller_k on May 29, 2012 at 7:07 PM

There was a time dear leader only wanted to talk to the enemy without preconditions. Now, it’s shoot first, no need for talkin’ later. I’m surprised they can get him off the golf course long enough to make these decisions.

Kissmygrits on May 29, 2012 at 7:22 PM

Making life and death decisions only feeds into his messianic beliefs about himself. He has transformed himself into our god.

Kissmygrits on May 29, 2012 at 7:25 PM

All I will say is……….under the previous administration, the protocols were much stricter. The rule was capture, not kill. Intel was the top priority. Racking up kills, not so much. I will leave it up each commenter on why that has changed.

flackcatcher on May 29, 2012 at 8:21 PM

It is also because Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent…

[I]n interviews, three former senior intelligence officials expressed disbelief that the number [of civilian casualties] could be so low. The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.

Can you just imagine if Bush did that?

How much input did he have on whether to target a particular terrorist (e.g., another U.S. citizen like Awlaki) if it might prove “problematic” for November? See why I think they had a political angle in leaking so much of this to the Times?

Was there ever any doubt it was political? Obama’s already tried to score points against Romney several times by implying Romney doesn’t have the stomach for this kind of thing. Unconvincingly. That is, people might suspect Romney wouldn’t be comfortable with it, but they were unconvinced Obama did any better.

So of course he had to leak something to sell himself as a strong leader.

By leaving his own fingerprints on the decision to strike, he’s making himself more accountable to voters. This way, if something goes horribly wrong, he can’t play dumb and pretend that it was done without his permission.

I actually approve of this. I just don’t believe for a second he’ll actually take the blame if anything goes wrong. It will be someone else’s fault anyway.

tom on May 29, 2012 at 8:30 PM

Why would anyone believe that Obama is not only disingenuous because of his complete reversal of his 2008 campaign clarion call and by putting a positive spin on this now his base has another reason to hate him as well ?

DevilsPrinciple on May 29, 2012 at 8:36 PM

This is hilarious. Mom Jeans Nancy-Boy Hawaiian Choomer picking out individual human targets for death by drones.

Jaibones on May 29, 2012 at 8:40 PM

Killing Bin Laden is the ONLY thing that Obama can brag about. Killing bad guys is almost the ONLY thing that he can do to make himself look good. Don’t be surprised if he does something to Iran or Syria to make himself look “presidential.”

mydh12 on May 29, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Aren’t there some aspirin factories he can bomb first?

tom on May 29, 2012 at 8:55 PM

glad i only pawn in game of life

to be killed by direct order of an ole’ doper with his killer drones would be sad

losarkos on May 29, 2012 at 9:33 PM

BHO, starring as John Rambo in “First Blood Gay Prez”.

antipc on May 29, 2012 at 9:41 PM

Aren’t there some aspirin factories he can bomb first?

tom on May 29, 2012 at 8:55 PM

Maybe a baby milk factory instead…

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iraq/abu_ghurayb.htm

Hazzard on May 29, 2012 at 9:55 PM

not only al qaida kill list

He is also checking the kill list of his death panels and anyone obstructing his dictatorship

huntingmoose on May 29, 2012 at 11:10 PM

AllahPundit MISSED IT:

POSTED AT 4:01 PM ON MAY 29, 2012 BY ALLAHPUNDIT

Obama’s Micro Managing the Military EXACTLY as LBJ and McNamara did in Vietnam

mathewsjw on May 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM

O is the original G

Wonder if he quotes Tony Montana when he points his finger gun sideways in the mirror …

“Amigo, the only thing in this world that gives orders is balls. Balls. You got that?”

R Square on May 30, 2012 at 12:34 AM

Chief and Choom’s Great Adventure

Brings new meaning to the phrase “smoking a fat one!”

R Square on May 30, 2012 at 1:03 AM

I have no problem with a kill list.

But weren’t these the guys screaming that these terrorists had rights and should be tried in American courts? That this was an issue for law enforcement? That GITMO needed to be closed and the prisoners tried or released?

I wonder if they even realize how much they look like a bunch of f*****g frauds.

goflyers on May 30, 2012 at 1:20 AM

Please tell me again why it is ok to assassinate our enemies but it is not ok to have them water boarded or to conduct body counts? This administration is a moral and logical morass. I guess that’s the consequences when you elect an inept. incompetent assassin instead of a president.

rplat on May 30, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Damn, this Nobel Peace Prize winnin, Muzzie drone killin Prez is awesome . . .

BigAlSouth on May 29, 2012 at 6:28 PM

You got it BigAl! He’s a legend in his own mind and the Democrat-Media Complex has the propaganda department in full swing.

I mean, just like the OBL raid, it’s like, dude, Obama was there pulling the trigger and like is so awesome and stuff!

LOL!

insidiator on May 30, 2012 at 7:59 AM

The List OF 75 US Senators / And All Of Our Congressmen Who Voted To Let 30,000 Drones Stalk/Shoot Americans In The Streets Of America For Our “Security”

http://wramsite.com/forum/topics/the-list-of-75-us-senators-who-voted-to-let-30-000-drones-stalk

Who will Obama Kill Next?

Capt-Dax on May 30, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Oh, my mistake. I clicked on this thinking the post was about those drones flying over our heads.

Don L on May 30, 2012 at 8:15 AM

AllahPundit MISSED IT:

POSTED AT 4:01 PM ON MAY 29, 2012 BY ALLAHPUNDIT

Obama’s Micro Managing the Military EXACTLY as LBJ and McNamara did in Vietnam

mathewsjw on May 29, 2012 at 11:12 PM

Sorta like Adolph did when he alone decided to go after his ally Russia — an act that cost him victory.

Don L on May 30, 2012 at 8:17 AM

I’m skeptical that the adults and in greater number, the semi-adults around Obama, actualyy leave the matter in O’s babyish hands. Flat out, the man is mentally incompetent. Note the sentence about his dreamy “sketches a vision”. This is a decider? A presentation is made by some aides who approach normalcy, the Chief Fool is walked through it, and something hinting at approval is grasped. Then it’s back to the teleprompter and the comics section of the paper.

arand on May 30, 2012 at 9:29 AM

George Bush kept a list of terrorists in his desk and when one was killed he checked them off.. they mentioned this.. and the left.. the same ones Lauding Obama for his kill list…

went collectively apesh*t over it.

Bush the killer.. Bush the warmonger.. Bush the thug.. Bush the murderer of brown peoples…

no mention of the same democrats that it made Bush look more presidential.

goes again to show the magic effect that little D has after your name.

mark81150 on May 30, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Obama’s list included Palin, Rush, Savage, Beck and several others but his staff had to take those names off till he had more flexibility.

Bulletchaser on May 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM

We need public wagering on who “Obama-the-Droner-in-Chief” is going to kill next. It could help with some state Lotteries.

trl on May 30, 2012 at 11:47 PM

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