New York Times reporter Scott Shane told PBS Newshour on Tuesday about the President’s involvement in U.S. drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Pakistan.
Shane and fellow New York Times reporter Jo Becker revealed details about Obama’s so-called “kill lists” in an article published Tuesday. The President is intimately involved in who is and isn’t targeted by the drone strikes, according to the reporters.
“We were very interested to discover that President Obama deliberately took a very central role in this program,” he explained. “He insisted on reviewing names that were going to be named to the so-called kill or capture list. And he has approved all strikes outside Pakistan and many of the more riskier, complex strikes inside Pakistan since he became president. Instead of wanting deniability and wanting to keep at a distance from this lethal program, he actually wanted to be very much part of it.”
The reporters also revealed that Obama decided to define “militants” as all military-age males in a given strike zone. The definition has been criticized for underestimating civilian causalities.
“The President apparently reacted quite strongly to a bad strike, an errant strike in Pakistan very early in the first days of his presidency, and has kept pressing the agencies involved to minimize civilian casualties,” Shane said. “But there’s also been some dispute over the way civilian casualties are counted. The CIA often counts able-bodied males, military-age males who are killed in strikes as militants, unless they have concrete evidence to sort of prove them innocent, and some folks at the State Department and elsewhere have questioned that kind of a process.”
Watch video, courtesy of PBS, below: