A look at the Obama Administration’s process for approving drone strikes on Al Qaeda suspects. Insiders say President Obama is personally approving the final decisions:
President Obama, overseeing the regular Tuesday counterterrorism meeting of two dozen security officials in the White House Situation Room, took a moment to study the faces. It was Jan. 19, 2010, the end of a first year in office punctuated by terrorist plots and culminating in a brush with catastrophe over Detroit on Christmas Day, a reminder that a successful attack could derail his presidency. Yet he faced adversaries without uniforms, often indistinguishable from the civilians around them.
‘How old are these people?’ he asked, according to two officials present. ‘If they are starting to use children,’ he said of Al Qaeda, ‘we are moving into a whole different phase.’ “It was not a theoretical question: Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret ‘nominations’ process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical.