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Outpost December 2002

State Department Explains
its Policy of Targeted Killings

November 06, 2002: State Department
Press Conference Following Killing of
Wanted Al Qaeda Terrorists

Spokesman: The United States killed six
suspected al Qaeda members in Yemen Monday
morning, including the man wanted in the bombing of the USS
Cole, with a Hellfire missile fired from an unmanned CIA
drone at the car in which they were traveling.

Reporter: Mr. Spokesman, some have
compared this incident to the Israeli policy of using targeted
killings against wanted terrorists which Secretary Powell has
condemned. What is your reaction?

Spokesman: Well, there’s clearly no
comparison to be made here.

Reporter: Mr. Spokesman, with all due
respect, what is the difference?

Spokesman: For starters, the Israelis refer to
their operations as “targeted killings.” Under a new
executive order signed by the President, we call our operations
“getting the bad guys.”

Reporter: Mr. Spokesman, putting aside
our choice of terminology, is the effect of these
operations not much the same?

Spokesman: Clearly not. The Israeli policy
affects people from groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
and Fatah, whereas ours are directed against members

of Al Qaeda. Besides that, the name of the top guy
we killed was Abu Ali. The name of the top guy the
Israelis killed was Abu Mohammed.

Reporter: I think the point I’m trying to make
is, are these not both very similar tactics used in the
effort to combat terrorism?

Spokesman: Tactics?! Let me be very clear.
This is part of an ongoing strategy. A strategy which the
President has rightly called a “War on Terror.” The
distinction between tactics and strategy should be kept very clear.

Reporter: But, Mr. Spokesman, how is our
strategy different from the strategy being used by the

Spokesman: I think I’ve made the distinction
clear enough and I’m afraid we’ve been over this ground
before. I’m not going to entertain further questions on
this topic, but if you’d like to discuss our vision for a just
and lasting peace in the Middle East, I’d be happy to get
into that.

November 6, 2002: State Department
Explains Policy of Targeted Killings

Q: On Qatar. What are the implications of
the U.S. Government’s missile strike yesterday and–

Boucher: Qatar? You mean Yemen?

Q: I’m sorry.Yemen. I’m sorry, in Yemen. And
I’m sure many Israelis are wondering what the difference
is between this and targeted killing. And me, too.

Boucher: As far as the events in Yemen, I
have nothing for you on that.

Q: But can you say that you are against
targeted killings?

Boucher: Our policy on targeted killings in
the Israeli-Palestinian context has not changed–

Q: In other contexts?

Boucher: –and we’ve discussed that and
explained that many times.

Q: And in other contexts?

Boucher: I’m not going to speculate.

Q: Well, so you have one rule for one
conflict and another rule for another conflict?

Boucher: I would say that — if you look back at

[(Continued on p.8)]

December 2002               - 7 -               Outpost





Outpost, December 2002, p. 8





[(Continued from p.7)]

what we have said about targeted killings in the
Israeli-Palestinian context, you will find that the reasons we
have given do not necessarily apply in other circumstances.

Q: If I remember, your opposition, stated
opposition at the targeted killings, has not been confined to
instances where civilians were victims. I think,
basically, it was a flat disapproval of targeted killings.

Boucher: We have explained our opposition
for a number of reasons. Sometimes all apply and
sometimes some apply, but they are particular to those
circumstances and I don’t want to talk about any
speculation about other events. But I think we all
understand that the situation with regard to Israeli-Palestinian
issues and the prospects of peace and the prospects of
negotiation and the prospects of the need to create an
atmosphere for progress — a lot of different things come
into play there.

Q: And what’s special about the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict that makes targeted killings inadvisable?

Boucher: All the things I just cited to your

Q: I didn’t hear those.

Boucher: Well, you can look at the transcript.

November 10, 2002: Secretary of State Powell
Explains Policy of Targeted Killings, on CNN Late
Edition with Wolf Blitzer

Blitzer: The U.S. took an action this past week

in firing Predator missiles at these al-Qaeda
operatives in Yemen, including a U.S. citizen. What’s the
difference between that targeted killing and the targeted killings
the Israelis engage in — which the State Department has

Secretary Powell: We believe that there are
significant differences. This was a case of clearly
somebody engaged in a direct conflict with the United
States. We believe that there are other ways to deal with
the problems of the Middle East — other ways that are
not enhanced. The likelihood of these other ways working
is not enhanced by those kinds of targeted
assassinations. So we believe there are differences and distinctions
between the two situations.

Blitzer: Is the U.S. going to continue this
policy as part of the war on terror to go after these targets
outside of Afghanistan?

Secretary Powell: I would not comment on
what targets we might or might not go after anywhere in
the world.

Blitzer: But what you’re saying is the
Israelis should stop doing what they did, but the U.S.,
theoretically, can continue to do–

Secretary Powell: Our policy with respect to
the Middle East and targeted assassinations has not
changed and we will do what we have to do to defend
ourselves with respect to terrorist activities.

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