National Security Brief: Will The Drone War End?

Former Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson reiterated his belief on Thursday night that at some point the authorization to use military force against al-Qaeda will expire and as such, the U.S. will “revert to the more traditional approaches to counterterrorism and law enforcement.” Currently, Johnson said on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, “The enemy does not necessarily legally need to be an eminent threat to the country or be someone in the act of planning a terrorist attack or something. If you see a senior member of al Qaeda in a remote location, for example, the military is authorized by that AUMF to take action against that person because we consider ourselves in an armed conflict with that particular enemy.” But the so-called “war on terror,” he added, “shouldn’t be regarded as a perpetual war without any sort of end.” Johnson’s views, first outlined in November during a speech in the United Kingdom, have significant implications for the U.S. terror detainee and drone programs. Johnson stepped down from his Pentagon position last month. Watch the interview here:

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In other news:

  • Reuters reports that Iran has agreed to talks with the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, Germany and China about its nuclear program this month. “We have accepted that these talks should be held in January, but until now, the details have not been finalized,” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said.
  • Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports: Western sanctions against Iran, combined with years of economic mismanagement by the country’s government, have hammered Iran’s currency and its economy. The economy was predicted to contract by nearly 1% in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund, after registering annual growth above 6% for much of the past decade. The IMF said Iran’s economy could grow again in 2013, but stressed that the collapse of the currency, inflation and reduced oil sales were working against a rebound.
  • An American “intelligence source” told a British newspaper that Saudi Arabia conducts joint airstrikes against suspected terrorists with American drones in Yemen. “[S]ome of the so-called drone missions are actually Saudi Air Force missions,” the U.S. source is reported to have said.