According to yesterday’s Washington Post, the Obama Administration is in the process of expanding the secretive program informally referred to as the “kill list,” intent on making it a permanent American fixture.
The new blueprint for pursuing enemies has been in development for at least two years and is named the “Disposition Matrix.”
The Matrix is a massive, ever-evolving database meant to go far beyond the current kill lists. More of a super-computing network with hunter instincts than conventional storage apparatus, the technology will allow for plans to dispose of terrorist suspects that lie beyond the reach of war drones.
More importantly, the Matrix marks the arrival of a new normal, a seemingly perpetual war against an ever-elusive enemy in the hopes of preventing another terrorist attack on homeland soil.
“There is a broad consensus [among senior Obama Administration officials] that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade,” states the Post with regard to drone strikes and kill lists. “Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.”
While the absence of a finite timetable for killing may worry some, it sits perfectly well with many in the intelligence establishment.
“The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower. You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back,” Brookings fellow and former Obama counterterrorism advisor Bruce Riedel told the Post.
The development of the Matrix is one of many steps the Obama Administration would like to take in the years to come. Looming on its plate is a measure backed by CIA Director David Petraeus, which would expand the number of armed drones.
The buildup of military infrastructure in Africa has accelerated, as standoffs between the military and a growing al-Qaeda network in Northern Africa grow imminent.
Ultimately, the Matrix will function as a sort of funnel, processing input from every agency involved in gathering intelligence into comprehensive strategies for disposing of targets.
Some suggest that the long-term effects of targeted killing could backfire, as the attacks may breed new armies and fuel al-Qaeda recruitment.
Neither Obama, nor his administration have commented on this possibility.
“We are looking at something that is potentially indefinite,” Paul Pillar, a former deputy director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, said. “We have to pay particular attention, maybe more than we collectively have so far, to the longer-term pros and cons to the methods we use.”
Even if Obama is a loser in November, there is every indication that Mitt Romney will align beside Petraeus, waiting out the development of the Matrix and command a military that has decided on the unmanned drone as its weapon of choice.
The revelation of the Matrix and all other developments came from current and former White House, Pentagon and intelligence officials who spoke to the Post under the condition of anonymity.