The Assassination Complex

Title: The Assassination Complex

Author: Jeremy Scahill

Drones are a tool not a policy. The policy is assassination. Proponents of drone warfare, however, prefer the euphemism “targeted Killings.” But drone strikes often kill people other that the intended target. Unless it can be proven otherwise, the government refers to these unintended victims as “enemies killed in action.” These deaths, which have included women and children, dwarf the number of actual combatants who have been assassinated by drones. They have generated anger toward the United States among foreign populations and have even become a recruiting tool for jihadists.

The first drone strike outside a declared war zone was conducted more that twelve years ago, but it was not until May 2013 that the White House released a set of standards and procedures for conducting such strikes. However, there was no explanation of the internal process used to determine whether a suspect should be killed without being indicted or tried, even if that suspect is an American citizen. The implicit message of the Obama administration has been Trust, but don’t verify.

Jeremy Scahill and his colleagues on The Intercept obtained a cache of slides from a source within the intelligence community that provides a window onto the inner working of the U.S. military’s drone operations. These documents make it possible to begin the long overdue debate about the policy of drone warfare and how it is conducted.