Dan Klaidman's new book on Obama's efforts in the War on Terrorism notes, "Though the program was covert, [Rahm] Emanuel pushed the CIA to publicize its covert successes. When Mehsud was killed, agency public affairs officers anonymously trumpeted their triumph, leaking colorful tidbits to trusted reporters on the intelligence beat."
Here's another passage from his book:
But as the Americans were closing in on Awlaki, Obama let
it be known that he didn't want his options preemptively foreclosed. If
there was a clear shot at the terrorist leader, even one that risked
civilian deaths, he wanted to be advised of it. "Bring it to me and let
me decide in the reality of the moment rather than in the abstract," he
said, according to one Obama confidant. "In this instance," recalled the
source, "the president considered relaxing some of his collateral
requirements." But in the end Obama was never forced to confront that
On the morning of September 30, after finishing breakfast, Awlaki and
several of his companions left the safe house and walked about seven
hundred yards to their parked cars. As they were getting into their
vehicles, they were blown apart by two Hellfire missiles. (Also killed
was Samir Khan, the Pakistani American propagandist for AQAP and editor
of the terrorist organization's Internet organ, Inspire.
Justice Department lawyers had told the military that they could not
approve Khan's killing, but after officials learned he had died in the
raid, Khan was deemed "acceptable collateral damage."
The White House is not angrily seeking out the source of this detailed insider account. Various revelations about the CIA drone program, many attributed in the press to "senior administration officials," are not part of the leak investigation launched by Attorney General Eric Holder, despite the fact that the Obama Administration insists that it has not declassified any of it.
There is, finally, the much talked about New York Times story, sourced to "three dozen" of Obama's "current and former advisers," that goes into great detail about how names are added to America's kill list, explicitly affirming the CIA's role in targeted drone killings. While the sourcing on some specific facts in the story is vague, other passages are sourced more narrowly.
For example, here's a "top White House adviser" talking about a CIA drone strike gone wrong:
Just days after taking office, the president got word that the first
strike under his administration had killed a number of innocent
Pakistanis. "The president was very sharp on the thing, and said, 'I
want to know how this happened,' " a top White House adviser recounted.In response to his concern, the C.I.A. downsized its munitions for more pinpoint strikes.
Or consider this passage:
Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011,
along with a fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who
was not on the target list but was traveling with him. If the president had qualms about this momentous step, aides said he did
not share them. Mr. Obama focused instead on the weight of the evidence
showing that the cleric had joined the enemy and was plotting more
"This is an easy one," Mr. Daley recalled him saying, though the
president warned that in future cases, the evidence might well not be so
So there you have Obama's former chief-of-staff acknowledging that Obama ordered the Awlaki strike.