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Bush authorized Yemen-style strikes, adviser says

Reuters, 10 November 2002


WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush has given broad authority to "a variety of people" in his administration to launch attacks like the missile strike that killed six suspected al Qaeda operatives in Yemen last week, his national security adviser said on Sunday.

"The president has given broad authority to a variety of people to do what they have to do to protect this country," National security adviser Condoleezza Rice told Fox News Sunday. "It's a new kind of war. We're fighting on a lot of different fronts."

The principal target of the strike, senior al Qaeda leader Qaed Senyan al-Harthi, was a key suspect in the bombing of the American warship USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden in 2000, which killed 17 U.S. sailors.

He was killed along with five other suspected Muslim extremists when the car they were traveling in was obliterated by a missile fired by an unmanned "Predator" drone operated by the CIA. A U.S. citizen was also killed in the attack.

Human rights group Amnesty International wrote to Bush on Friday to question Washington's role in the attack.

"If this was the deliberate killing of suspects in lieu of arrest, in circumstances in which they did not pose an immediate threat, the killings would be extra-judicial executions in violation of international human rights law," the London-based rights group in a statement.

Amnesty called on the United States to issue a clear and unequivocal statement that it does not sanction extra-judicial executions. Rice seemed to reject that call on Sunday.

"I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here," she said when asked if such killings violated U.S. or international law. The president is "well within the bounds of accepted practise and the letter of his constitutional authority," Rice said.

"We have a lot of allies in this war," she added.

Copyright © 2002 Reuters
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.

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