There appears to be an attempt by the White House to obfuscate the purpose of drone strikes, based on Riyadh’s Station Chief, John Brennan, Takes JSOC’s Drone Keys Away. Shortly before the latest underwear-bomb scare, it appeared that the White House was going to take control over the program and scrutinize every target-choice. But is appears that after the underwear-bomb scare, this effort, or pretense, was essentially dropped, and that things went back to business as usual, with the CIA and JSOC conducting "signature" strikes, the criteria for which are indicated by the following excerpts:
The story recounts one-on-one meetings between Obama and Hillary Clinton, for which only she could be the source, in which she swore allegiance to his bloodbath policy, but tried unsuccessfully to interest him in discussions of how people become radicalized in the first place.from 36 Present and Past Aides Point to Obama the Crazed Killer
The source of Obama's repeated lie that there are hardly any civilian casualties in all this butchery, is that all military-aged males in a strike zone are counted as combatants, unless it is explicitly proven otherwise after their deaths! This lie has so troubled some administration officials that they have brought their concerns to the White House.
“The Predator crew demonstrated a propensity/bias for kinetic operations and failed to accurately pass Distributed Common Ground Systems (DCGS) Screeners [the analysts watching the live video feed from the drone] assessments to the [commander in the field] that could have prevented the strike. The Predator crew’s bias towards kinetic operations skewed their reports. The Predator crew emphasized information suggesting the vehicles were hostile, while downplaying or ignoring information to the contrary.” (Centcom FOIA 10-0218 Uruzgan , p.61)
Elsewhere in the papers, the investigator lays out in detail, using the audio logs of conversations from the drone pilots, how they “skewed” their reports towards an attack:
3: The Predator pilot and crew constantly challenged the Screeners assessment whenever there was an indication that it may not have been a hostile target. “AT LEAST ONE CHILD… REALLY? ASSISTING MAM [MILITARY TERM MEANING MILITARY AGED MALES] MEANS HE’S GUILTY…. Review that (expletive deleted). Why didn’t he say ’possible child’? Why are they so quick to call (expletive deleted) kids but not call (expletive deleted) a rifle”
from Drones and the ‘propensity to kinetic action’
So, simply being a military-aged-male (MAM), or a child assisting a MAM, is sufficient to qualify a drone-strike victim as a "militant." Having a rifle is apparently also sufficient to qualify someone as a "militant." In other words, they have an easy excuse to target just about anyone, which is exactly what you'd expect if the actual goal of the drone attacks is to terrify the population and drive them into the arms of the "Islamic" terrorist-controllers which Scahill indicates have a mysterious immunity from drone strikes. Also note that the above excerpt in which Hillary Clinton "tried unsuccessfully to interest [O'Bombus] in discussions of how people become radicalized in the first place." Perhaps he didn't want to discuss it because he didn't want to admit that radicalizing every military-aged-male IS his policy, as it appears to be.
For more on my opinion on drone strikes, see this post.