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
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
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