Kill List Could Expand to North Africa

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 9 2013 1:53 PM

Is U.S. Considering Expansion of Targeted Kill List Into North Africa?

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The attack on the Algerian gas plant that ended with 37 dead foreigners may prove to be a turning point for the targeted-killing program

Photo by JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images

At a time when targeted killings have once again become subject of debate in Washington and across the country, some senior officials are pushing to expand the “capture or kill” lists into northwestern Africa. The Wall Street Journal reports that “senior U.S. officials” want to add Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attack and hostage-taking in the Algerian natural-gas plant, to the list. That would represent a marked expansion of the country’s programs of drone strikes and lethal counterterrorism operations that has focused on Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. So far, the United States has tried to keep some distance from northwest Africa operations because militants there aren’t seen as posing a direct threat to the homeland but now some U.S. officials say militants like Belmokhtar have proven to pose a danger to Americans and other westerners in the region. 

Chances are that whatever is decided, there won’t be much congressional oversight. Politico takes a look at how despite some sporadic tough words, lawmakers have provided virtually no oversight of the targeted-killing program that has expanded greatly since President Obama arrived in the White House. And there’s no sign that’s going to change anytime in the near future. Sure, the White House may have turned over classified legal opinions this week. But “there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Congress will return to status quo, as the Hill often does after a brief moment of interest in a headline-grabbing national security program.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.