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February 12 2014


Drones And The Kill List Now

The White House debates a drone attack against a U.S. citizen and terror suspect in Pakistan. We’ll look at Washington’s kill list and American drone policy.

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants' hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)

Pakistani protesters burn a representation of the U.S. flag to condemn American drone strikes on militants’ hideouts in Pakistani tribal areas, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 in Multan, Pakistan. The U.S. is now said to be considering legal options for using an unmanned drone to kill an American citizen in Pakistan. (AP)


Greg Miller, intelligence reporter for the Washington Post. (@gregpmiller)

Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for the Guardian U.S. (@attackerman)

Micah Zenko, Douglas Dillon Fellow in the Center for Preventative Action at the Council on Foreign Relations. Author of “Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies” and “Between Threats and War: U.S. Discrete Military Operations in the Post-Cold War World.” (@MicahZenko)

Philip Mudd, director of global risk at SouthernSun Asset Management. Former deputy director of the counter-terrorism center at the C.I.A.  Former senior intelligence adviser and deputy director of the F.B.I.’s National Security branch.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: U.S. weighs lethal strike against American citizen — “The Obama administration is weighing whether to approve a lethal strike against a U.S. citizen who is accused of being part of the al-Qaeda terrorist network overseas and involved in ongoing plotting against American targets, U.S. officials said.”

Council On Foreign Relations: Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies – “Like any tool, drones are only as useful as the information guiding them, and for this they are heavily reliant on local military and intelligence cooperation. More important, significant questions exist about who constitutes a legitimate target and under what circumstances it is acceptable to strike. ”

The Intercept: The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program — “According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.”

September 10 2013


Rewriting the Revolution

Shaimaa Khalil looks at the Arab Spring through the eyes of prominent writers Egypt's Sara Khorshid, Libyan author Ghazi Gheblawi, Tunisia's Samar Samir Mezghanni, Farea Al-Muslimi from Yemen and Syrian author Samar Yazbek.

September 08 2013


Podcast: What We Know (And Don’t Know) About the Drone War

For this week’s podcast, Cora Currier and Steve Engelberg discuss the Obama administration’s controversial use of drones and how much of the program remains shrouded in secrecy.

August 07 2013


Embassy Lockdown And The Al-Qaida Threat

With John Harwood in for Tom Ashbrook.

Embassies on lockdown across the globe, personnel pulled from Yemen. We look at the nature and scope of the al-Qaida threat now.


Elise Labott, Foreign Affairs reporter for CNN. (@eliselabottcnn)

Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, Director of the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. He served as  Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department from 2009 to 2012.

Brian Michael Jenkins, longtime terrorism expert and senior adviser to the President of the Rand Corporation. Author of the Rand Corporation’s report, “Al Qaeda in Its Third Decade: Irreversible Decline or Imminent Victory,” published last year. (@BrianMJenkins)

Gregory Johnsen, Yemen expert at Princeton University. Author of, “The Last Refuge: Yemin, al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia.” (@gregorydjohnsen)


From the Reading List:

The New York Times: Qaeda Leader’s Edict to Yemen Affiliate Is Said to Prompt Alert – “The intercepted conversations last week between Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the head of the global terrorist group, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, revealed what American intelligence officials and lawmakers have described as one of the most serious plots against American and Western interests since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.”

Reuters: Al Qaeda intercept is just one piece of threat intelligence: U.S. sources – “The threat picture is based on a broad range of reporting, there is no smoking gun in this threat picture,” a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. U.S. officials said there was still no information about a specific target or location of a potential attack, but the threat to Western interests had not diminished.”

Foreign Policy: How We Lost Yemen — “Why, if the U.S. counterterrorism approach is working in Yemen, as Barack Obama’s administration claims, is AQAP still growing? Why, after nearly four years of bombing raids, is the group capable of putting together the type of plot that leads to the United States shuttering embassies and missions from North Africa to the Persian Gulf? The answer is simple, if rather disheartening: Faulty assumptions and a mistaken focus paired with a resilient, adaptive enemy have created a serious problem for the United States.”


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