Brennan’s World: Drones and Future Administrations

So hot on the heels of Jason’s thought provoking piece, the Washington Post has an interesting profile of the role played by John Brennan in the Obama Administration’s counter-terrorism policy.

Bobby Chesney has an interesting dissection of the points made in the article at Lawfare, with an emphasis on how Brennan’s CT policy seems to be working at (an albeit limited) attempt to shape future drone policy in a more restrained and transparent direction.

While I understand that this will do nothing to sooth the more skeptical views of the general policy of counter terrorism and drone warfare, I for one find the distinctions here to be extremely interesting. Specifically the following points:
1. The Administration (and Brennan more specifically) and its attempts to get the CIA out of the killing business.
One of the many many problems with the current targeted killing program is the use of CIA rather than military assets to kill people. Evidently the Administration hopes to move the CIA out of the targeted killing business and put JSOC in charge of it. Chesney rightly wonders if this would in fact increase transparency as claimed, but I think on the whole this is a move in the right direction.

2. The Administration (and again Brennan) appear to be trying to create an institutional structure to actually place constraints on the use of drones in warfare.
Both Chesney and Jack Goldsmith suggest this is probably a bit more CYAing self-justification, but it seems to me this is a conversation that needs to be had in general. Ideally congressional oversight in crafting these processes would be the next best step.

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