msnbc | June 02, 2012
>>> some startling information in two "new york times" this week. including attacking iran's nuclear computers and attacking terrorists with drones. joining me to discuss this is the co-author of the article of obama's secret kill list, jill, thank you for coming in this morning.
>> thank you for having me.
>> david singer wrote about what the united states is doing to slow down iran's nuclear ambitions, if you will. tell us about the article and what we learned from it.
>> it was a fascinating, fascinating story. and it details how the united states now today had a covert cyber attack that basically attacked center parts of the centrifuges and literally caused them to spin out of control. we found the same thing in the drop program is what you really see is president obama 's deep involvement in the covert programs.
>> let's go ahead and talk about these new types of methods, if you will. the cyber attacks and the drone strikes. does this signal a change in terms of boots on the ground , in terms of that menialty?
>> well, certainly we now have the capability that wen't didn't have before. and now you see the administration making use of it. to be clear, though, both of the programs were inherited from the bush administration . they have just been ramped up. i think they comport with president obama 's view, which he expressed during the campaign that he wanted to get troops out of iraq. he's now in the process of withdrawing troops from afghanistan. and so this is a way to go after terrorism and terrorists in a more, they believe, precise way.
>> and expand on his philosophy, has his philosophy on this type of war fair changed at all, specifically with the drone strikes and since he's taken office?
>> well, it is interesting because i think that, you know, there was a series of close calls in 2009 that culminated in an al qaeda operative almost taking down a plane over detroit. and someone said it caused them to tighten their risks. early on what you saw was very early on us a strike that went badly and killed some civilians. and he was quite concerned about it. somebody told us that he was very sharp on the thing. he told the cia he wanted to approve strikes that didn't have -- any strike that didn't have a pretty much zero chance of near certainly of zero civilian deaths to come to him, but what's interesting and what we learned in the reporting of it is that, first of all, the cia was always careful on civilian casualties , but more importantly the president embraced a building of casualties that essentially means that any military aged man in a strike zone wouldn't be counted as a civil an. so that allows some flexibility when you take a shot or don't take a shot. furthermore, he'll get more comfortable with it. his own standard on this, what's tested, the leader of the cia came to him and said, we have a leader of the pakistani taliban in our sights. so if we are going to take a shot, we are more than likely going to kill civilians. he's staying at the in-laws home. and his wife was there.
>> they actually make these decisions in something called terror tuesdays.
>> actually, these are sort of operation decisions. so terror tuesdays is a policy meeting that takes place. and they talk about sort of the broad policy outlines.
>> or the kill list, which you wrote about.
>> the kill list and the operations are brought to the white house on an as-needed basis. this is not coming up every single tuesday, as you can imagine. so, we can talk about how this works. there are two methods by which the president sort of gets nominees, if you will, of people who should be put on this list. the first is they come to him through the cia . so the cia is sort of an internal process, mainly in pakistan involving people in pakistan. that then gets funneled up to john brennan , his counter terrorism chief, who can bat things back at any point if he wants to. but ultimately if he's successful he'll bring it to the president. and on the department of defense side in somalia and yemen, al qaeda operatives there come through this nomination's process, which is an interagency process and people can essentially call out simple objections. well, what do you mean as the al qaeda facilitator?
>> i know there's been a whole lot of controversy around this called the kill list in "the new york times." it was fascinating and a great read. jo becker , we are out of time but i appreciate you stopping by. great investigative work on your part.
>> thank you for having me.
>> thank you so much for stopping by.