Bob Woodward, in “The War Within,” has a mysterious passage about the supersecret, high-tech assassination efforts aimed at Iraqi militants. It’s all hush-hush, but there is other testimony and reporting (see below) about what, exactly, it might be. Personally, I’m not too sure. Counterinsurgency can’t be done from the sky, or from remote locations, at least not without massive collateral damage, civilian casualties, mistaken identities, and the like. Still, there’s no doubt that the US forces in Iraq are killing a lot of people, innocent and not-so-innocent. Here’s what Woodward writes:
Beginning in about May 2006, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence agencies launched a series of TOP SECRET operations that enabled them to locate, target, and kill key individuals in extremist groups such as al Qaeda, the Sunni insurgency, and renegade Shia militias, or so-called special groups. The operations, which were either Special Access Programs (SAP) or part of Special Compartmented Information (SCI), incorporated some of the most highly classified techniques and information in the U.S. government.
Officials at the White House have asked me not to publish the details or the code word names associated with these groundbreaking programs. [They use] every tool available simultaneously, from signals intercepts to human intelligence and other methods, that allowed lightning-quick and sometimes concurrent operations.
There has been speculation about some sort of “secret weapon.” An unclassified military briefing by the US Special Operations Command suggests something: a classified program that allows “continuous clandestine tagging, tracking, and locating (CTTL).” It enables counterinsurgency teams the “ability to locate, track and identify human beings” from remote locations, but according to the briefing it’s not up and running yet.
So far, Woodward — in interviews — hasn’t said much more. But there are some hints. The Post itself provided a detailed account of the so-called “fusion cells” of counterinsurgency experts who’ve conducted deadly operations against suspected militants. It’s all run by the Joint Task Force, whose headquarters in Iraq bustles with “long-haired computer experts working alongside wizened intelligence agents and crisply clad military officers.” It adds: