Executive Branch Terrorism & Extremism

Biden Administration Declassifies Two Counterterrorism Memorandums

Gia Kokotakis
Wednesday, July 5, 2023, 4:54 PM
The Biden administration partly declassified two memorandums that tighten the necessary conditions for drone strikes and lay out new counterterrorism guiding principles.

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A presidential policy memorandum (PPM) governing direct action counterterrorism operations and a national security memorandum signed in October 2022 were recently declassified and released. The PPM tightens the conditions under which drone strikes may be used in areas of inactive hostility (meaning in all countries but Iraq and Syria). It orders that drone operators must obtain permission from the president to conduct strikes against suspected militants outside of conventional war zones, and they must do so with “near certainty” that no civilians will be harmed by the strike. The national security memorandum adjusts the U.S.’s approach to counterterrorism efforts pursued since Sept. 11, 2001, outlining guiding principles that turn away from “undertaking large-scale, U.S.-led nation-building efforts in the name of [counterterrorism]” in favor of collaborating directly with local authorities to equip them with the ability to counter terrorist threats.

You can read the presidential policy memorandum here and the national security memorandum here. Both are below:

Gia Kokotakis was an intern at Lawfare and is a senior at Georgetown University, where she studies government, French, and Jewish civilization. She received an Attestation d’Études Politiques from Sciences Po Lyon in May 2023.

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