Obama Team Made Attempt to Solidify Drone Policy in Event of Romney Win

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Predator drone firing a Hellfire Missile

Months before the election, President Barack Obama’s national security team began formulating a standing policy and protocol for when drones should be used to attack terrorists and others in case Mitt Romney won the presidency.


The White House wanted to ensure there were distinct procedures and standards in place for Romney so there would be little guessing for how and when to carry out such strikes. “There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Mr. Obama did not want to leave an 'amorphous' program to his successor.”


Obama ordered the writing of a formal rulebook for drone strikes, according to The New York Times, last summer when he couldn’t be certain of winning reelection.


Now that Obama has secured his second term in office, the process of institutionalizing the drone attacks will continue, but at a slower pace.


Within the administration there are disagreements over how often drones should be utilized. The Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency favor “greater latitude to carry out strikes,” wrote Scott Shane in the Times, while the Department of Justice and the State Department, as well as the president’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, prefer more restraint.


The first such targeted killings by the US took place in 2002. Since Obama first took office, there have been more than 300 drone strikes that have caused the death of about 2,500 people. The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed lawsuits seeking release of the secret legal opinions that serve as the justification for these operations, which remain officially classified.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy (by Scott Shane, New York Times)

Drones are a Growth Industry (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Obama Plans to Expand Assassination List (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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