Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pepperdine Law School, is one of the foremost experts on kill-lists.

McNeal has published an extensive and exhaustive review of “kill-lists” which is available by download online, Kill-Lists and Accountability.  Here is and excerpt from the abstract:

This article is a comprehensive examination of the U.S. practice of targeted killings. It is based in part on field research, interviews, and previously unexamined government documents. The article fills a gap in the literature, which to date lacks sustained scholarly analysis of the accountability mechanisms associated with the targeted killing process….

The article begins by reporting the results of a case study that began with a review of hundreds of pages of military policy memoranda, disclosures of government policies through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by NGOs, filings in court documents, public statements by military and intelligence officials, and descriptive accounts reported by the press and depicted in non-fiction books. These findings were supplemented by observing and reviewing aspects of the official training for individuals involved in targeted killings and by conducting confidential interviews with members of the military, special operations, and intelligence community who are involved in the targeted killing process. These research techniques resulted in a richly detailed depiction of the targeted killing process, the first of its kind to appear in any single publication.

McNeal has found the one area in which the bureaucracy is quite efficient (from the article at 6-7, footnotes omitted):

America’s bureaucrats kill with amazing efficiency.  They wield the nation’s strengths in technology, surveillance and reconnaissance and leverage those strengths through multiple levels of specialized analysis. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of people make incremental contributions to a well-oiled killing machine, ensuring that by the time a target shows up in the cross-hairs of an operator he can rest assured that the target is worth killing. In fact, the operator sits at the tip of a long analytical spear, with analysis that is so robust that he and the bureaucrats assisting him can focus most of their attention on preventing incidental harm to nearby civilians and civilian property (so called “collateral damage”). Napoleon once remarked “c’est la soupe qui fait le soldat,” which translated means, “an army marches on its stomach.” Today’s armies can only fight after a hefty helping of bureaucratic analysis.

There are more links and background at his blog.

Here’s a talk he gave recently at Dickinson Law School: