"Ask Osama bin Laden" has become President Obama's catchphrase and policy when it comes to the fight against al-Qaeda, but the successful results of America's drone program only provide one answer--and perhaps it's not the only one we want. The Washington Post's Greg Miller has a piece shedding light on those other sticky and morally ambiguous facets of Obama's expanding, clandestine (and successful) drone program, and the troublesome ways strikes are—and are not—reported:
Within 24 hours of every CIA drone strike, a classified fax machine lights up in the secure spaces of the Senate intelligence committee, spitting out a report on the location, target and result.
The outdated procedure reflects the agency’s effort to comply with Title 50 requirements that Congress be provided with timely, written notification of covert action overseas. There is no comparable requirement in Title 10, and the Senate Armed Services Committee can go days before learning the details of JSOC strikes.
Neither panel is in a position to compare the CIA and JSOC kill lists or even arrive at a comprehensive understanding of the rules by which each is assembled.
The senior administration official said the gap is inadvertent. "It’s certainly not something where the goal is to evade oversight," the official said. A senior Senate aide involved in reviewing military drone strikes said that the blind spot reflects a failure by Congress to adapt but that "we will eventually catch up."
The fact that the (arguably) most sophisticated intelligence program in the United States (that isn't Google) still faxes is a bit baffling, isn't it? But that even the Senate can't compare the kill lists or protocol of this successful program seems a bit ... well, interesting. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates put it best:
But mostly I wonder about the secrecy here at home. In this business, the American president is the steward of his country's accounts. But Obama has a stated policy of keeping these sorts of expenses of the books. Some decades from now the bill will surely come due.
For the rest of the story head on to the Washington Post.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.