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The Drone Blowback Fallacy

Strikes in Yemen Aren't Pushing People to Al Qaeda

Yemenis look for a drone aircraft in the town of Wadi Abida. (Khaled Abdullah Ali Al Mahdi / Courtesy Reuters)

Recent revelations that the White House keeps a secret terrorist kill list, which it uses to target al Qaeda leaders, have spurred a debate over drone warfare. Progressive pundits excoriate the Obama administration for expanding the power of the executive branch. Senate Republicans, in turn, have demanded the appointment of a special counsel to probe the alleged leaks of classified information that brought the kill list to light. As the political drama unfolds in Washington, however, the United States is intensifying its drone campaign in the arid mountains and remote plateaus of Yemen.

With al Qaeda's center of gravity shifting from Pakistan to Yemen, the Central Intelligence Agency recently sought authority to conduct "signature strikes," in which drone pilots engage targets based on behavioral profiles rather than on positive identifications. The

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