Last week, I wrote a post here about the emergence of a parallel new Bush admininstration doctrine that allows US forces to raid countries at will whenever supposedly “actionable intelligence” reveals the presence of bad guys.

Today, in the New York Times, there is explosive confirmation of that:

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States. …

The 2004 order identifies 15 to 20 countries, including Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and several other Persian Gulf states, where Qaeda militants were believed to be operating or to have sought sanctuary, a senior administration official said.

This is outrageous, and it gives President Obama yet another secret Bush directive to undo at one minute after noon on January 20. He should also make sure to seek out and fire every single lawyer at the Defense Department and Justice Deparment who approved this order.

Once that’s done, Obama and his national security team ought to start the process of reining in the sprawling, out-of-control US special forces. The Joint Special Operations Command and the office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations have run amuck, and it’s long overdue that they have their wings clipped.