The senior administration official, who asked not to be further identified in order to discuss the issue, said the Pakistani Taliban also have repeatedly threatened attacks on the United States, most recently after the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing, and that they’d supported a failed May 2010 car bombing in New York’s Time Square.
Obama, however, said that only terrorists of al-Qaida and its associated forces who posed a “continuing and imminent threat” to Americans could be hit. Carney and the senior administration official declined to discuss any intelligence involving Mehsud, and the administration hasn’t disclosed the groups that it considers al-Qaida’s “associated forces.”
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Sarah Knuckey, a New York University law professor who co-authored a major 2012 study of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, said confusion about the targeted killing guidelines would persist until they were made public.
“It needs to be demonstrated to the public and Congress that the rules have been observed,” she said. “Otherwise we will continue to ask the same questions, and that undermines the legitimacy of the program.”