CIA drone strikes in Pakistan won’t stop!

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President Barack Obama’s administration has decided to give the Pentagon control of some drone operations against terrorism suspects overseas that are currently run by the CIA, several US government sources have said.

Obama has pledged more transparency on controversial counterterrorism programs, and giving the Pentagon the responsibility for part of the drone program could open it to greater congressional oversight.

Obama will make a speech on Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington that will include discussion of the government’s use of drones as a counterterrorism tool. It is unclear whether he will announce the drone program shift in that speech or separately.

Four US government sources told Reuters that the decision had been made to shift the CIA’s drone operations to the Pentagon, and some of them said it would occur in stages.

Drone strikes in Yemen, where the US military already conducts operations with Yemeni forces, would be run by the armed forces, officials said.

But for the time-being US drone strikes in Pakistan would continue to be conducted by the CIA to keep the program covert and maintain deniability for both the United States and Pakistan, several sources said.

Ultimately, however, the administration’s goal would be to transfer the Pakistan drone operations to the military, one US official said on condition of anonymity.

The internal debate within the administration about whether to switch control of drone strikes to the military has been going on for months. Obama is under heightened pressure to show that his administration is transparent, after a series of scandals about civil liberties and allegations of government overreach broke last week.

A White House National Security Council spokeswoman and a CIA spokeswoman each declined comment.

DECISION AFTER MONTHS OF DEBATE

One of the reasons to make the shift is that it would help the CIA to return to more traditional spying operations and intelligence analysis, rather than paramilitary operations involving killing terrorism targets, officials have said.

The US military is not engaged in ground combat in Pakistan, where the population in tribal areas has been angered by drone strikes and governments do not want to acknowledge that they allow US unmanned aircraft to operate.

But in Yemen, the same sensitivities do not exist because the US military is working with Yemeni forces in counterterrorism operations and so drone strikes in Yemen will shift to the Pentagon, two sources said.

There have been 355 drone strikes in Pakistan and 66 in Yemen, according to a widely cited drone attack database run by the New America Foundation think tank. (Database: http://natsec.newamerica.net/)

The United States has also carried out drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and East Africa, some of them operated by the military.

The use of armed drones jumped in 2008 when President George W. Bush authorized the use of “signature” strikes, allowing the targeting of terrorism suspects based on behavior and other characteristics without knowing the targets’ identities.

Rosa Brooks, a New America Foundation fellow and Georgetown University law professor, said the problem with the targeted killing program was “an assertion by the executive branch that it has this essentially unconstrained and unreviewable power to kill people.”

Brooks, who previously served at the Pentagon, said she hoped that Obama would publicly release the legal justifications and analysis for the targeted killings overseas, including of US citizens.

“I would also like to see the president say that we will acknowledge all strikes, that we will publicly report on identities of who was targeted, at least after the fact,” she said.

17 COMMENTS

  1. no drones will not stop that why Obama being so democratic, democratically rigged Pakistan elections to have poodles in place to carry on this crimes against humanity!

  2. now pml-n will start giving same arguments about drones what we were listening from peoples party in the past. no one is in position to stop drones.

  3. Fact remains that shooting the drones down means war with the USA.

    The drones are humiliating and brutal but we have no option but to pray they are no longer needed.

  4. .
    @Rosa Brooks: The policy about drone is "When it has to 'hit' — 'hit', don't talk" …
    .

  5. US attacking Pakistan…where are our armed forces..sleeping..This is why PTI was denied power…

  6. US cannot Attack Iran..because Iran will retaliate..but our shameless govt and Generals have sold out the country for a few dollars.

    • yes brother terrorist is our man wepon so doin't blame army we need more terrorisit for better economy and more us $

  7. Certainly it is now Nawaz Shareef responsibility to stop all the drone attacks. But he is not capable. He can say only two words to US – Yes Sir, Yes Sir. Pakistan rejected IK who only could stop the drone attacks and take Pakistan to prosperity. But Pakistan is responsible and Pakistanis living in Pakistan must pay the price. They even should not mum or cry and bear these all silently. And live like animals. It is your choice.

    • we proud because we r the no 1 terrorist satate in the world plz prey govt maintain it next decads

  8. Pakistan chose it and they should bear it silently like animals. No more cry.

  9. So if now we know that this is the declared policy and adopted stance — what's our counter? Are we going to shoot them down or continue living with beygheraty!

  10. The PML-N and their supporters, together with their voters are guilty and will have blood on their hands. They will have to answer for this on the day of Judgement. It was their vote that will give rise to more killing and bllodshed. Well done people of Pak to vote-in a corrupt government.

  11. Drone strikes will continue against al Qaeda, especially in Yemen against AQAP. President Obama is correct is using this strategy against the thousands of small, mobile, AQAP members who are bent on killing American citizens, not just soldiers. As a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), I toured Creech AFB in Nevada where they are flown from. Much analysis is done before targets are attacked. I wrote an article on drone usage against al Qaeda and offer it free to readers:
    http://osintdaily.blogspot.com/2013/05/cia-drone-

  12. There are so many political terrorists exiled in western countries bu natives of poor countries and have poltical asypum in Europe and they are running political organisations and even terrorist activities in third World countries.

    Droans are against the soverienanity of Pakistan. Pakistan must use its rights to go UN and Haig courts and put it's case against US military might. Killing terrorists as well as innocent people or any one without trial is itself terrorist action by any Government and that must not be allowed in the world of ours and even international law does not permit it. We must protect our world from terrorists whether it is sate or individual.

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