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Major revelations about the US governmentï¿½s drone programï¿½bestselling author Jeremy Scahill and his colleagues at the investigative website The Intercept expose stunning new details about Americaï¿½s secret assassination policy.
When the US government discusses drone strikes publicly, it offers assurances that such operations are a more precise alternative to troops on the ground and are authorized only when an ï¿½imminentï¿½ threat is present and there is ï¿½near certaintyï¿½ that the intended target will be killed. The implicit message on drone strikes from the Obama administration has been trust, but donï¿½t verify.
The online magazine The Intercept exploded this secrecy when it obtained a cache of secret slides that provide a window into the inner workings of the US militaryï¿½s kill/capture operations in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Whether through the use of drones, night raids, or new platforms yet to be employed, these documents show assassination to be central to US counterterrorism policy.
The classified documents reveal that Washingtonï¿½s fourteen-year targeted killing campaign suffers from an overreliance on flawed signals intelligence, an apparently incalculable civilian toll, and an inability to extract potentially valuable intelligence from terror suspects. This campaign, carried out by two presidents through four presidential terms, has been deliberately obscured from the public and insulated from democratic debate. The Assassination Complex allows us to understand at last the circumstances under which the US government grants itself the right to sentence individuals to death without the established checks and balances of arrest, trial, and appeal.