White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan, who is taking on new authority over strikes, once backed "enhanced-interrogation techniques."
As I figure it, there are two death panels in the United States. One is within the C.I.A., where high-ranking intelligence professionals decide, via some opaque protocol, who they want to kill with armed drones. I used to assume that they put all the names on a list. But it was subsequently reported that sometimes the C.I.A. kills people whose identities it doesn't even know.
Then there's the other death panel. It determines whose death will be sought by drones that the Department of Defense controls. These human targets used to be determined in a meeting that involved the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, various unnamed national security officials, and Obama Administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan. They'd talk things over and debate names.
Now the protocol is changing for both programs.
"White House counterterror chief John Brennan has seized the lead in choosing which terrorists will be targeted for drone attacks or raids, establishing a new procedure for both military and CIA targets," Kimberly Dozier of the Associated Press reports. "The effort concentrates power over the use of lethal U.S. force outside war zones within one small team at the White House ... Under the new plan, Brennan's staff compiles the potential target list and runs the names past agencies such as the State Department at a weekly White House meeting."