Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Initially, the agency used that authority to hunt for Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan. That authority was the basis for the C.I.A.'s attempts to find and kill or capture Mr. Bin laden and other Qaeda leaders during the war in Afghanistan...Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh has repeatedly said that assassinations did, in fact, take place.
In November, the C.I.A. killed a Qaeda leader in a remote region of Yemen. A pilotless Predator aircraft operated by the agency fired a Hellfire antitank missile at a car in which Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, also known as Abu Ali, was riding. Mr. Harethi and five other people, including one suspected Qaeda operative with United States citizenship, were killed in the attack.
Mr. Harethi, a key Al Qaeda leader in Yemen who is suspected of helping to plan the bombing of the American destroyer Cole in 2000, is believed to have been on the list of Qaeda leaders that the C.I.A. had been authorized to kill. After the Predator operation in Yemen, American officials said Mr. Bush was not required to approve the mission before the attack, nor was he specifically consulted...
The list is updated periodically as the intelligence agency, in consultation with other counterterrorism agencies, adds new names or deletes those who are captured or killed, or when intelligence indicates the emergence of a new leader...
The development of the armed Predator drone has made it much easier for the C.I.A. to pursue and kill terrorists in ways that would almost certainly not have been tried in the past for fear of the potential for American casualties...
The more aggressive approach to counterterrorism is showing results.
George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, said in a speech last week that more than one-third of the top leadership of Al Qaeda identified before the war in Afghanistan had been killed or captured.
And the former number 2 man in the State Department - Col. Lawrence Wilkerson - confirms that assassinations did occur:
"What I suspect has happened is what began to happen while I was still in the government, and that was we’re killing the wrong people,” Wilkerson added. “And we’re killing the wrong people in the wrong countries. And the countries are finding out about it, or at least there was a suspicion that the countries might find out about it, and so it was shut down. That’s my strong suspicion.”...Indeed, veteran investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill points out that foreign assassinations are still continuing under Obama.
“After some hemming and hawing, which was Rumsfeld’s forte, he finally admitted that he had dispatched some of these teams,” Wilkerson explained. “I don’t think we ever knew the full range of his deployments.” Wilkerson believes the CIA became involved in the program of targeted assassinations later.