As this piece from The Bereau Of Investigation shows, four words that changed the course of military action were “OK. Fine. Shoot Him”:
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) usually gets all the credit for the first US drone targeted killing beyond the conventional battlefield.
But it was the military which gave the final go-ahead to kill on November 3 2002.
Lt General Michael DeLong was at Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida when news came in that the CIA had found its target. The deputy commander made his way down to the UAV Room, showing live video feeds from a CIA Predator high above Marib province in Yemen.
The armed drone was tracking an SUV on the move. The six terrorist suspects inside were unaware that a decision had already been made to kill them.
Interviewed by PBS, DeLong later recalled speaking by phone with CIA Director George Tenet as he watched the video wall:
‘Tenet goes “You going to make the call?” And I said, “I’ll make the call.” He says, “This SUV over here is the one that has Ali in it.” I said, “OK, fine.” You know, “Shoot him.” They lined it up and shot it.’
Eight thousand miles away and moments later, six alleged terrorists were dead. Among them was a US citizen.