The Special Ops Option

The NY Times reports that since 2004, the U.S. military in conjunction with the CIA has been authorized by presidential directive to conduct targeted counterterrorism strikes and ground raids within 15 to 20 countries, including Syria and Pakistan, but also Saudi Arabia. I suppose there’s some news value in confirming this sort of thing, but I’m hard-pressed to feel surprised by it. On the other hand, a good part of the story here seems to be why this was leaked now, at such a sensitive moment of transition, and by whom. It seems like it ties the Obama adminstration’s hands in a way that suggests it was a faction concerned by the potential for blowback. On the other hand, these seem to be the very operations that opponents to the policy of “Shock and Awe” regime change have been advocating for as a more precise counterterrorism approach. So, sure, they’re risky, but that’s why they’re done covertly. We’ll probably have to wait to see where the return fire comes from to get a better sense of what this means.

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