Obama approves names to be put on kill lists

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By Manju Shukla
Date  30 May 2012
US President Barack Obama personally approves the names to be put on the "kill lists" of the targeted killing operations performed by the country’s assassination drones.

According to the reports every week or so, more than 100 members of the country’s national security team gather via secure video teleconference run by the Pentagon and go over the biographies of suspects in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, and "nominate" those who should be targeted in the attacks.

The identities of the nominees are then provided to Obama, who signs off on every strike in Yemen and Somalia and on especially complex and risky strikes in Pakistan.

National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon said, "He (Obama) is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go."

"His view is that he's responsible for the position of the United States in the world... He's determined to keep the tether pretty short," he noted.

The report noted that no other US president in the country’s history ever took such a singular role in deciding such matters.

A US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaqi was killed in Yemen in an assassination drone attack approved by Obama last year. Critics have said that it set a worrying precedent that the president could single-handedly decide to be "judge, jury, and executioner" over an American.

In Pakistan, Washington claims that its airstrikes target militants crossing the border with Afghanistan, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks.

The US military has also used the drones in Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq.

On Sunday, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the use of the drones as "the most precise weapon we have" in the campaign against al-Qaeda. At least 21 people were killed in US drone attacks across the world in less than 24 hours following his remarks.

The UN has denounced the attacks as targeted killings and said they posed a challenge to international law.

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