Musharraf allowed drone strikes in FATA: NYT

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WASHINGTON

In the skies above Yemen, the Pentagon’s armed drones have stopped flying, a result of the ban on American military drone strikes imposed by the government there after a number of botched operations in recent years killed Yemeni civilians.
In Pakistan, the CIA remains in charge of drone operations, and may continue to be long after American troops have left Afghanistan, a report in The New York Times said on Sunday.
“Some might want to get the CIA out of the killing business, but that’s not happening anytime soon,” said Michael A Sheehan, who until last year was the senior Pentagon official in charge of special operations and now holds the distinguished chair at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.
Before taking charge of the CIA last March, Brennan had spent four years as Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, a job that put him in charge of the targeted killing operations that became a signature of the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism. It also made Mr. Brennan — who before working for Obama had spent 25 years at the CIA — a powerful influence on a president with no experience in intelligence.
“The CIA should not be doing traditional military activities and operations,” he said.
In Pakistan, where the CIA also is in charge of the drone programme, the pace of strikes has declined sharply, and there have been none since the government in Islamabad formally entered peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a group that tracks drone strikes.
But American officials said that the drone programme there could continue for years, and Pakistan’s government has long insisted that it be run by the CIA, not the American military.
This was one of the terms of the deal reached a decade ago between the Bush administration and Pervez Musharraf, then the president of Pakistan, who said he would allow armed drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas only if they were conducted as a CIA covert action and not acknowledged by either country. For Pakistan to agree to any changes in this arrangement, the United States would most likely have to agree to integrating Pakistan’s military into the drone operations.
A White House spokeswoman said there had been “no change in policy” since President Obama’s speech last May announcing changes to the targeted killing policy.
Even if the CIA eventually does give up the work of firing missiles and dropping bombs in far-flung regions of the earth, Brennan insists that its counterterrorism mission will endure.
“Despite rampant rumors that the C.I.A. is getting out of the counterterrorism business, nothing could be further from the truth,” the CIA director said during a speech last month at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The agency’s covert action authorities and relationships with foreign spy services, Brennan said, “Will keep the CIA on the front lines of our counterterrorism efforts for many years to come.”

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