The secret list the White House uses to determine who to target with a drone strike, known as the 'kill list' -- or 'disposition matrix,' whatever -- is still highly classified, but we know there isn't a hard-and-fast set of rules they follow. Well, it seems like there will be soon.
The New York Times' Scott Shane reports the thought of handing the list over to Mitt Romney worried the President so much that he ordered a set of rules and regulations be done up in case he lost the election:
“There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said.
Currently, there's nothing in place to hold the President accountable for the drone strike program. He can order attacks on whichever militants he pleases, and this raises concerns with some critics. But we really don't know much about the current drone decision making process, and the administration so rarely goes on record about the drone program that one of the only places the President has spoken about it openly was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
The set of rules for drone strikes is currently being edited and vetted by the various departments that get a say in these things. The rules were going to be completed by January in the event of an Obama loss, but now that he's secured a second term they're going to take their time.
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- the White House