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Jeremy Scahill writes:

Both President Bush and President Obama have reserved the right for US forces to operate lethally and unilaterally in any country across the globe in pursuit of alleged high value terrorists. The Obama administration’s expansion of US Special Operations activities globally has been authorized under a classified order dating back to the Bush administration. Originally signed in early 2004 by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, it is known as the “AQN ExOrd,“ or Al Qaeda Network Execute Order. The AQN ExOrd was intended to cut through bureaucratic and legal processes, allowing US special forces to move into denied areas or countries beyond the official battle zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. Gen. David Petraeus, who is poised to become director of the CIA, expanded and updated that order in late 2009. "JSOC has been more empowered more under this administration than any other in recent history,” a Special Ops source told The Nation. “No question.”

Several Special Ops sources say that President Obama has taken concrete steps to once again integrate JSOC more fully into the broader US military strategy globally. The bin Laden operation, which was done in concert with the CIA, seems to be evidence of that. The primacy of JSOC within the Obama administration’s foreign policy–from Yemen and Somalia to Afghanistan and Pakistan–indicates that he has doubled down on the Bush-era policy of targeted assassination as a staple of US foreign policy.

JSOC: The Black Ops Force That Took Down Bin Laden