Secret Directive Lets US Attack Up to 20 Nations

Rumsfeld order in '04 allowed peacetime strikes on al-Qaeda
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2008 6:26 AM CST
Donald Rumsfeld, former defense secretary, signed a directive in 2004 allowing the military to carry out strikes in up to 20 countries with which the US is not at war, say administration officials.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – The American military has conducted almost a dozen secret attacks against al-Qaeda and other militant groups in Syria, Pakistan, and other nations since 2004, the New York Times reveals. The strikes were carried out under a classified order signed by Donald Rumsfeld that gave sweeping powers to let the military conduct operations in 15 to 20 countries with which the US is not at war.

Some of the military's operations have been conducted alongside the CIA, whose headquarters contains a video hookup that allows officials to monitor the strikes in real time. Despite the insistence of some in the administration, the Rumsfeld directive does not include permission to attack Iran. But several officials suggested to the Times that American forces have conducted reconnaissance inside Iran under other classified orders.