Drones must roll in Pakistan, says Panetta


The United States will have to keep up an open-ended drone war against al Qaeda militants in Pakistan and elsewhere to prevent another terror attack on America, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said.
The assassination of al Qaeda figures in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia with unmanned, robotic aircraft has provoked widespread criticism from human rights groups and some US allies, but Panetta said the US campaign had been effective. Asked if the CIA “targeted killings” should be curtailed in coming years, Panetta said in an interview on Friday that there was still a need to continue the drone strikes more than a decade since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
“I think it depends on the nature of the threat that we’re confronting. We are in a war. We’re in a war on terrorism and we’ve been in that war since 9/11. The whole purpose of our operations was aimed at those who attacked this country and killed 3,000 innocent people in New York as well as 200 people here at the Pentagon,” he said, who is days away from retiring as the Pentagon chief.
Before taking over as the defence secretary, Panetta oversaw a dramatic increase in drone raids in Pakistan as the head of CIA from 2009-2011. “I think we had a responsibility to use whatever technology we could to be able to go after those who not only conducted that attack but were planning to continue to attack this country,” he said.
“It’s been an important part of our operations against al Qaeda, not just in Pakistan, but also in Yemen, in Somalia and I think it ought to continue to be a tool we ought to use where necessary,” he said.
The CIA drone bombing raids, by Predator and Reaper aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles, have caused an unknown number of civilian casualties and prompted accusations that Washington is carrying out extrajudicial killings in the shadows with no genuine oversight by courts or lawmakers. Panetta, who as CIA director presided over the successful raid that killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, said the campaign still needed to be regularly reviewed but did not say he favoured turning over the spy agency’s drone war to the military.


  1. If the American government did really care about the lives of its citizens, George W. Bush would be in his grave, or at least in a prison, for causing the death, for no good reason, of 5, 000 Americans in Iraq, which number far exceeds those killed by Osama bin Laden in 9/11 attack. But surprisingly, George W. Bush still appears in the list of admired Americans' for 2012.. Strange creatures, these Americans.

    – Karachi

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