Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Playing catchup with drone attack stories

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Sept. 14, 2010

Record level of US airstrikes hit Afghan militants



ISLAMABAD -- Drone aircraft unleashed two missile attacks in a lawless tribal region on the Afghan border Tuesday, making September the most intense period of U.S. strikes in Pakistan since they began in 2004, intelligence officials said.

The stepped-up campaign is focused on a small area of farming villages and mountainous, thickly forested terrain controlled by the Haqqani network, a ruthless American foe in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say. There is some evidence the network is being squeezed as a result, one official said.

American officials said the airstrikes were designed to degrade the Haqqanis' operations on the Pakistani side of the border, creating a "hammer-and-anvil" effect as U.S. special operations forces carry out raids against their fighters across the frontier in Afghanistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing classified operations.

The missiles have killed more than 50 people in 12 strikes since Sept. 2 in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan, according to an Associated Press tally based on Pakistani intelligence officials' reports. Many struck around Datta Khel, a town of about 40,000 people that sits on a strategically vital road to the Afghan border.


From Huffington Post Sept. 10, 2010

CIA May Send Predator Drones Into Yemen


WASHINGTON — The White House, in an effort to turn up the heat against al-Qaida's branch in Yemen, is considering adding the CIA's armed Predator drones to the fight, two U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The drones are among CIA resources that could be assigned to an existing mission by U.S. special operations forces, a senior U.S. official told The Associated Press. The official said such options were in the planning stages and would be done only with the cooperation of the Yemeni leadership in Sanaa.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters of intelligence.

The fact that the White House is considering supplying CIA weapons and other resources to the clandestine counterterrorist fight in Yemen was first reported in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Yemen is the base of operations for al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, the militant group that claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas Day and counts American-born rebel cleric Anwar al-Awlaki among its leadership. The U.S. military has been working with the Yemeni counterterrorist forces for years, and that cooperation has increased under the Obama administration.

But officials say the U.S. hasn't yet brought as much pressure to bear against AQAP as they have against its parent organization, Osama bin Laden's Pakistan-based al-Qaida, and that a range of tools and tactics were being considered.

Among the CIA's most lethal tools, armed Predator drones are already hunting high-value militant targets in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions. The idea is to reassign some of those to the U.S. special operations forces assisting local counterterrorist forces in Yemen.

But U.S. officials may have a hard time selling the concept to the Yemeni government in Sanaa, where reports of the potential use of drones has already touched off controversy.

A CIA drone strike made headlines in Yemen, in November 2002, when it killed an American citizen along with a group of al-Qaida operatives. Drones became shorthand in Yemen for a weak government allowing foreign forces to have their way.


A previously referenced New Yorker article from October, 2009 ...

The Predator War: What are the risks of the C.I.A.’s covert drone program? by Jane Mayer

A brief excerpt of note ...

"Before September 11th, the C.I.A., which had been chastened by past assassination scandals, refused to deploy the Predator for anything other than surveillance. Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s counterterrorism director, and Steven Simon, a former counterterrorism adviser, report in their 2002 book 'The Age of Sacred Terror' that the week before Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. George Tenet, then the agency’s director, argued that it would be 'a terrible mistake' for 'the Director of Central Intelligence to fire a weapon like this.'

Yet once America had suffered terrorist attacks on its own soil the agency’s posture changed, and it petitioned the White House for new authority. Within days, President Bush had signed a secret Memorandum of Notification, giving the C.I.A. the right to kill members of Al Qaeda and their confederates virtually anywhere in the world. Congress endorsed this policy, passing a bill called the Authorization for Use of Military Force. Bush’s legal advisers modeled their rationale on Israel’s position against terrorism, arguing that the U.S. government had the right to use lethal force against suspected terrorists in “anticipatory” self-defense. By classifying terrorism as an act of war, rather than as a crime, the Bush Administration reasoned that it was no longer bound by legal constraints requiring the government to give suspected terrorists due process."

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