News / USA

New US Counterterrorism Guidelines Face Questions

The White House in Washington, D.C.,  December 30, 2012.The White House in Washington, D.C., December 30, 2012.
x
The White House in Washington, D.C.,  December 30, 2012.
The White House in Washington, D.C., December 30, 2012.
— The White House is neither confirming nor denying a U.S. newspaper report that work is nearly complete on a set of specific guidelines for the U.S. war on terrorism.  The so-called "playbook" on counter-terrorism still awaits President Barack Obama's final approval.  

A recent report by The Washington Post said the "playbook" with specific details of U.S. counterterrorism policies is in the final stages of review.

Quoting anonymous U.S. officials, the newspaper said the document would provide specifics and legal principles to be used in deciding whether terrorist suspects, including U.S. citizens overseas, could be targeted for attack.

The guidelines would also spell out the approvals required before strikes by remote-controlled drones.

On that point, U.S. government agencies are expected to agree that CIA-directed drone attacks in Pakistan against al-Qaida and Taliban forces can continue, at least until 2014, when U.S. combat troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The counterterrorism playbook is unlikely to be made public.  White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to discuss specifics of the document, but said President Obama remains determined to pursue operations against al-Qaida and its allies.

"The president's overall approach is that we need to do everything we can to keep Americans and America safe, as well as our allies, and we need to do it in ways that are consistent with our values and our laws," said Carney. "And that is certainly the approach that he has taken and will continue to take."

Since 2009, President Obama has intensified drone attacks in Pakistan, and in Yemen against an al-Qaida affiliate group, despite criticism at home and abroad.

The apparent drone strike in 2011 that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric working in Yemen for al-Qaida, refocused media attention on the use of “targeted killings.”  

Carney referred reporters to statements by counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, nominated to head the CIA.  Brennan has been the principal official defining legal and moral justifications for use of drones and targeted killings.

Matthew Aid, an independent intelligence analyst, says the emerging guidelines have gone through numerous revisions and are the subject of intense debate.  He suggests that any exemption from the guidelines of drone strikes in Pakistan is cause for concern.

"The principal weapon that the U.S. government uses at present to locate, localize and kill terrorists is the unmanned drone," said Aid. "So if you exempt the drones from this doctrinal document that has been put together over the span of a year by the White House and the national security establishment, basically you're leaving out a critical component of what it is we're doing out there."

In a telephone conference call Tuesday, former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations voiced their concerns.  Blair said covert drone operations have created "legal knots" (dilemmas) for the Obama administration, and that targeted killings in Pakistan will not help the Islamabad government control the threat if faces from terrorist activity in the long term.

ZENKO:  “If the United States decides not to apply the playbook to Pakistan it is essentially meaningless because 85 percent of all the targeted killings that the U.S. has conducted in non-battlefield settings since September 11, 2001, have occurred in Pakistan.  So the vast majority of targeted killings and drone strikes will not be covered under the playbook."

BLAIR: "A classified playbook does not reassure the American people who I think are the primary ones that need to be convinced that their government is doing the right thing."

White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked if drone strikes contradict part of President Obama's inauguration speech in which he said Americans believe "enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."

Despite progress against "al-Qaida central," Carney said,  Obama remains "clear eyed" about the threat posed by affiliated groups in a "new phase" of the counterterrorism war.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid