Greg Miller and Craig Whitlock
Washington Post 
Oct 2, 2012
The White House has held a series of secret meetings in recent months to examine the threat posed by al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa and consider for the first time whether to prepare for unilateral strikes, U.S. officials said.
The deliberations reflect concern that al-Qaeda’s African affiliate has become more dangerous since gaining control of large pockets of territory in Mali and acquiring weapons from post-revolution Libya. The discussions predate the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. compounds in Libya but gained urgency after the assaults there were linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.
U.S. officials said the discussions have focused on ways to help regional militaries confront al-Qaeda but have also explored the possibility of direct U.S. intervention if the terrorist group continues unchecked.
“Right now, we’re not in position to do much about it,” said a senior U.S. counterterrorism official involved in the talks. As a result, he said, officials have begun to consider contingencies, including the question of “do we or don’t we” deploy drones.