Washington’s Blog 
March 8, 2013
The U.S. government already claims the power to assassinate, indefinitely detain or torture anyone in Al Qaeda or “associated forces” :
In the name of “fighting Al Qaeda or associated forces” or those who “support” those bad guys, the U.S. government has authorized:
- Assassinating people  anywhere in the world without due process or even a legal charge . . .
- including U.S. citizens 
- Torturing people  . . .
- including Americans living on American soil 
- Labeling virtually any American as a “terrorist “
Now, the government wants to allow targeting of “associates of associates” of Al Qaeda.
As the Washington Post reported yesterday :
A new generation of al-Qaeda offshoots is forcing the Obama administration to examine whether the legal basis for its targeted killing program can be extended to militant groups with little or no connection to the organization responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. officials said.
The Authorization for Use of Military Force, a joint resolution passed by Congress three days after the strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, has served as the legal foundation for U.S. counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda over the past decade …that have killed thousands of people.
The authorization law has already been expanded by federal courts beyond its original scope to apply to “associated forces” of al-Qaeda. But officials said legal advisers at the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies are now weighing whether the law can be stretched to cover what one former official called “associates of associates.”
Officials said they have not ruled out seeking an updated authorization from Congress or relying on the president’s constitutional powers to protect the country. But they said those are unappealing alternatives.
The debate comes as the administration seeks to turn counterterrorism policies adopted as emergency measures after the 2001 attacks into more permanent procedures  that can sustain the campaign against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, as well as other current and future threats.
“You can’t end the war if you keep adding people to the enemy who are not actually part of the original enemy,” said a person who participated in the administration’s deliberations on the issue. [Indeed, endless war is a feature, not a bug, of government policy .]
He said extending the AUMF to groups more loosely tied to al-Qaeda would be “a major interpretive leap” that could eliminate the need for a link between the targeted organization and core al-Qaeda.
Still, the administration has taken recent steps — including building a drone base in the African country of Niger — that have moved the United States closer to being able to launch lethal strikes if regional allies are unable to contain emerging threats.
In other words, the government wants to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon  with our life and liberty.