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The Obama Administration Plans to Be Hunting Terrorists for Decades

And you thought the Global War on Terror was over. The Washington Post reports:

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the “disposition matrix.”

The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. U.S. officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the “disposition” of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.

Although the matrix is a work in progress, the effort to create it reflects a reality setting in among the nation’s counterterrorism ranks: The United States’ conventional wars are winding down, but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years. . . .

That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism. Targeting lists that were regarded as finite emergency measures after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are now fixtures of the national security apparatus. The rosters expand and contract with the pace of drone strikes but never go to zero.

Read the whole piece. It’s the first in a three-part series, a fascinating investigation into how the Obama administration has “institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war. . . [and] to embed counterterrorism tools into U.S. policy for the long haul.”

Obama’s evolving counterterrorism policy suggests that the global war on terror is nowhere near over. The U.S. is planning to pursue terrorists to the far corners of the earth for decades to come.

This evolving policy also means that the President’s security policy is not so different from his predecessor, despite much determined and lofty rhetoric to close Guantanamo Bay and end America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama is pursuing the global war on terror with as much zeal as Bush.

The Obama administration has tried to fight the war on terror in part by denying such a thing exists. But contrary to what you hear from Washington, the war on terror did not end with the death of bin Laden. It was peak moment in an enduring conflict, not the conclusion.

As Bruce Reidel, a former CIA analyst and Obama counterterrorism adviser, put it to the Post: “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.”

Get ready for decades of war.

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