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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Old news

From October 2001:

CIA Weighs 'Targeted Killing' Missions
Administration Believes Restraints Do Not Bar Singling Out Individual Terrorists

By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2001; Page A01

Armed with new authority from President Bush for a global campaign against al Qaeda, the Central Intelligence Agency is contemplating clandestine missions expressly aimed at killing specified individuals for the first time since the assassination scandals and consequent legal restraints of the 1970s.

Drawing on two classified legal memoranda, one written for President Bill Clinton in 1998 and one since the attacks of Sept. 11, the Bush administration has concluded that executive orders banning assassination do not prevent the president from lawfully singling out a terrorist for death by covert action. The CIA is reluctant to accept a broad grant of authority to hunt and kill U.S. enemies at its discretion, knowledgeable sources said. But the agency is willing and believes itself able to take the lives of terrorists designated by the president....

The public face of that campaign is a conventional war in Afghanistan using uniformed troops. Yet inside the CIA and elsewhere in government, according to sources, much of the debate turns on the scope of a targeted killing campaign. How wide should the government draw the circle around bin Laden? And in which countries -- among the 40 or so where al Qaeda is believed to operate -- may such efforts be attempted?

...Senior officials said the president's finding directs new forms of cooperation between the CIA and uniformed military commando units. Some knowledgeable sources said it is also possible that the instruments of targeted killings will be foreign agents, the CIA's term for nonemployees who act on its behalf. That is controversial, because it involves risks of betrayal and conflicting agendas on the part of the agents, but it is also seen in parts of the agency as advantageous.

Link from the Rumor Mill News.