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In August 5th, officials at the Central Intelligence Agency, in Langley, Virginia, watched a live video feed relaying closeup footage of one of the most wanted terrorists in Pakistan. Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, could be seen reclining on the rooftop of his father-in-law’s house, in Zanghara, a hamlet in South Waziristan. It was a hot summer night, and he was joined outside by his wife and his uncle, a medic; at one point, the remarkably crisp images showed that Mehsud, who suffered from diabetes and a kidney ailment, was receiving an intravenous drip.
The video was being captured by the infrared camera of a Predator drone, a remotely controlled, unmanned plane that had been hovering, undetected, two miles or so above the house. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, A. Rehman Malik, told me recently that Mehsud was resting on his back. Malik, using his hands to make a picture frame, explained that the Predator’s targeters could see Mehsud’s entire body, not just the top of his head. “It was a perfect picture,”Malik, who watched the videotape later, said. “We used to see James Bond movies where he talked into his shoe or his watch. We thought it was a fairy tale. But this was fact!” The image remained just as stable when the C.I.A. remotely launched two Hellfire missiles from the Predator. Authorities watched the fiery blast in real time. After the dust cloud dissipated, all that remained of Mehsud was a detached torso. Eleven others died: his wife, his father-in-law, his mother-in-law, a lieutenant, and seven bodyguards.
Pakistan’s government considered Mehsud its top enemy, holding him responsible for the vast majority of recent terrorist attacks inside the country, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in December, 2007, and the bombing, last September, of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, which killed more than fifty people. Mehsud was also thought to have helped his Afghan confederates attack American and coalition troops across the border. Roger Cressey, a former counterterrorism official on the National Security Council, who is now a partner at Good Harbor, a consulting firm, told me, “Mehsud was someone both we and Pakistan were happy to see go up in smoke.” Indeed, there was no controversy when, a few days after the missile strike, CNN reported that President Barack Obama had authorized it.
However, at about the same time, there was widespread anger after the Wall Street Journal revealed that during the Bush Administration the C.I.A. had considered setting up hit squads to capture or kill Al Qaeda operatives around the world. The furor grew when the Times reported that the C.I.A. had turned to a private contractor to help with this highly sensitive operation: the controversial firm Blackwater, now known as Xe Services. Members of the Senate and House intelligence committees demanded investigations of the program, which, they said, had been hidden from them. And many legal experts argued that, had the program become fully operational, it would have violated a 1976 executive order, signed by President Gerald R. Ford, banning American intelligence forces from engaging in assassination.
Hina Shamsi, a human-rights lawyer at the New York University School of Law, was struck by the inconsistency of the public’s responses. “We got so upset about a targeted-killing program that didn’t happen,” she told me. “But the drone program exists.”p. She said of the Predator program, “These are targeted international killings by the state.” The program, as it happens, also uses private contractors for a variety of tasks, including flying the drones. Employees of Xe Services maintain and load the Hellfire missiles on the aircraft. Vicki Divoll, a former C.I.A. lawyer, who now teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, observed, “People are a lot more comfortable with a Predator strike that kills many people than with a throat-slitting that kills one.” But, she added, “mechanized killing is still killing.”
The U.S. government runs two drone programs. The military’s version, which is publicly acknowledged, operates in the recognized war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, and targets enemies of U.S. troops stationed there. As such, it is an extension of conventional warfare. The C.I.A.’s program is aimed at terror suspects around the world, including in countries where U.S. troops are not based. It was initiated by the Bush Administration and, according to Juan Zarate, a counterterrorism adviser in the Bush White House, Obama has left in place virtually all the key personnel. The program is classified as covert, and the intelligence agency declines to provide any information to the public about where it operates, how it selects targets, who is in charge, or how many people have been killed.
Nevertheless, reports of fatal air strikes in Pakistan emerge every few days. Such stories are often secondhand and difficult to confirm, as the Pakistani government and the military have tried to wall off the tribal areas from journalists. But, even if a precise account is elusive, the outlines are clear: the C.I.A. has joined the Pakistani intelligence service in an aggressive campaign to eradicate local and foreign militants, who have taken refuge in some of the most inaccessible parts of the country.
The first two C.I.A. air strikes of the Obama Administration took place on the morning of January 23rd—the President’s third day in office. Within hours, it was clear that the morning’s bombings, in Pakistan, had killed an estimated twenty people. In one strike, four Arabs, all likely affiliated with Al Qaeda, died. But in the second strike a drone targeted the wrong house, hitting the residence of a pro-government tribal leader six miles outside the town of Wana, in South Waziristan. The blast killed the tribal leader’s entire family, including three children, one of them five years old. In keeping with U.S. policy, there was no official acknowledgment of either strike.
Since then, the C.I.A. bombardments have continued at a rapid pace. According to a just completed study by the New America Foundation, the number of drone strikes has risen dramatically since Obama became President. During his first nine and a half months in office,[ he has authorized as many C.I.A. aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W. Bush did in his final three years in office. The study’s authors, Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann, report that the Obama Administration has sanctioned at least forty-one C.I.A. missile strikes in Pakistan since taking office—a rate of approximately one bombing a week. So far this year, various estimates suggest, the C.I.A. attacks have killed between three hundred and twenty-six and five hundred and thirty-eight people. Critics say that many of the victims have been innocent bystanders, including children.
In the last week of September alone, there were reportedly four such attacks—three of them in one twenty-four-hour period. At any given moment, a former White House counterterrorism official says, the C.I.A. has multiple drones flying over Pakistan, scouting for targets. According to the official, “there are so many drones” in the air that arguments have erupted over which remote operators can claim which targets, provoking “command-and-control issues.”
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the defense contractor that manufactures the Predator and its more heavily armed sibling, the Reaper, can barely keep up with the government’s demand. The Air Force’s fleet has grown from some fifty drones in 2001 to nearly two hundred; the C.I.A. will not divulge how many drones it operates. The government plans to commission hundreds more, including new generations of tiny “nano” drones, which can fly after their prey like a killer bee through an open window.
With public disenchantment mounting over the U.S. troop deployment in Afghanistan, and the Obama Administration divided over whether to escalate the American military presence there, many in Washington support an even greater reliance on Predator strikes. In this view, the U.S., rather than trying to stabilize Afghanistan by waging a counter-insurgency operation against Taliban forces, should focus purely on counterterrorism, and use the latest technology to surgically eliminate Al Qaeda leaders and their allies. In September, the conservative pundit George Will published an influential column in the Washington Post, “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan,” arguing that “America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, air strikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.” Vice-President Joseph Biden reportedly holds a similar view.
It’s easy to understand the appeal of a “push-button” approach to fighting Al Qaeda, but the embrace of the Predator program has occurred with remarkably little public discussion, given that it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force. And, because of the C.I.A. program’s secrecy, there is no visible system of accountability in place, despite the fact that the agency has killed many civilians inside a politically fragile, nuclear-armed country with which the U.S. is not at war. Should something go wrong in the C.I.A.’s program—last month, the Air Force lost control of a drone and had to shoot it down over Afghanistan—it’s unclear what the consequences would be.
The Predators in the C.I.A. program are “flown” by civilians, both intelligence officers and private contractors. According to a former counterterrorism official, the contractors are “seasoned professionals—often retired military and intelligence officials.” (The intelligence agency outsources a significant portion of its work.)
Read more: www.newyorker.com...
Hate to break it to ya but 4chan kinda is a really reliable source!
The OP most likely checked for credibility beforehand so no need to bring down the source when it was already checked.
Originally posted by truth?
There is ZERO conclusive evidence that shots were fired. It sounded vaguely like a gunshot but could have been a host of other things.
Russia probably did shoot down the plane and probably assassinated the guy who filmed it. Would that really surprise anyone?