NOTE: Helena and I have been thinking quite independently along similar lines, which is not an isolated occurrence.
Approximately half of the CIA budget is reportedly devoted not to intelligence but to operations, such as targeted assassinations. New technology allows the US to use un-manned aircraft to kill people whever and wherever the President directs.
On February 13, 2009 Senator Diane Feinstein reported that the CIA has been flying Predator aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles from a Pakistan base.
Reporting from Washington — A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an air base in that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counter-terrorism collaboration with the United States.
The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on where the Predator aircraft patrolling Pakistan take off and land.
At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise over Pakistani opposition to the campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Islamic extremist targets along Pakistan’s northwestern border.
“As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base,” she said.
The CIA declined to comment, but former U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, confirmed that Feinstein’s account was accurate.
The Hellfire missile features a twenty pound blast fragmentation warhead and a laser homing device.
Last year Pakistan protested civilian deaths resulting from Predator strikes.
Islamabad, May 17 (ANI): The Pakistan Army has lodged a formal protest to allied forces in Afghanistan over a suspected US missile strike this week that killed 14 people in Bajaur Agency.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General Major-General, Athar Abbas, said Pakistan concluded that drones from Afghanistan launched Wednesdays attack on a house in Damadola village.
Abbas said a formal protest was lodged on Friday with allied forces in Afghanistan, an apparent reference to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force that is fighting the Taliban-led insurgency there.
He said 14 people died in the attack. It was unclear if any foreign militants were killed because local tribesmen had sealed off the area in the aftermath and buried the victims, Abbas added.
But this year the Pakistan has a new policy.
The protests are “really for the sake of public opinion,” said one Pakistani official. “These operations are helping both sides. We are partners on this.” Partners on this!
The Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, says the raids are effective. The Annual DNI Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community, 12 Feb 2009:
The loss of these and many other leaders in quick succession has made it more difficult for al-Qa’ida to identify replacements, and in some cases the group has had to promote more junior figures considerably less skilled and respected than the individuals they are replacing.
The problem is that Pakistanis are not as complacent (or complicit) as their government.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan 23, 2009 — Two missile attacks launched from remotely piloted American aircraft killed at least 15 people in western Pakistan on Friday. The strikes suggested that the use of drones to kill militants within Pakistan’s borders would continue under President Obama.
Remotely piloted Predator drones operated by the Central Intelligence Agency have carried out more than 30 missile attacks since last summer against members of Al Qaeda and other terrorism suspects deep in their redoubts on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan.
But some of the attacks have also killed civilians, enraging Pakistanis and making it harder for the country’s shaky government to win support for its own military operations against Taliban guerrillas in the country’s lawless border region.
Pakistanis probably see it as US terrorism. From the DOD Dictionary:
terrorism: The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.
The problem continues. As Dave Kilcullen testified to congress on Feb 5, 2009:
The current approach is having a severely de-stabilizing effect on Pakistan and risks spreading the conflict further, or even prompting the collapse of the Pakistani state, a scenario that would dwarf any of the problems we have yet faced in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Yes — Hellfire missiles slamming into anyone’s town would have “a severely de-stabilizing effect.”
The last Pew Global Research Survey on the subject in 2005 reported that only 23 percent of Pakistanis viewed the US favorably. One result is that not only are the Pakistanis in Pakistan unhappy with the US, but that the Pakistani community in the UK is recognised as probably the major terrorist threat to the US.
07 Feb 2009
American spy chiefs have told the President that the CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain. They believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under the visa waiver programme is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.
Intelligence briefings for Mr Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5, the British security service.
A British intelligence source revealed that a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who has advised Mr Obama, told The Sunday Telegraph: “The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably al-Qaeda’s best mechanism for launching an attack against North America.
“The American security establishment believes that danger continues and there’s very intimate cooperation between our security services to monitor that.” Mr Riedel, who served three presidents as a Middle East expert on the White House National Security Council, added: “President Obama’s national security team are well aware that this is a serious threat.”
The British official said: “The Americans run their own assets in the Pakistani community; they get their own intelligence. There’s close cooperation with MI5 but they don’t tell us the names of all their sources.
There is no talk about safe havens and staging areas in English tribal areas, no Predator strikes for Jolly Old, but rather “very intimate cooperation between our security services to monitor that.”
When the Director of National Intelligence testified to the senate on February 12, 2009 he forget to mention the major terrorist threat to the US comes from the UK. Imagine that! But Dennis Blair did mention the UK. He lauded the non-violent (non-kinetic, in Pentagon Newspeak) approach of the Brits (and by inference the US) to potential terrorists.
The United Kingdom has established the most diversified and energetic official outreach program to Muslims, largely reflecting concern about homegrown terrorism since the July 2005 London attacks. Among other initiatives, the UK Government has promoted the creation of an advisory board on mosque governance, a committee of Muslim theologians, and consultative bodies of Muslim women and youth. It also has held multiple high profile conferences with Islamic scholars and government representatives from the Muslim world.
British police have made a conscious decision to seek the cooperation of non-violent radicals even while political authorities have encouraged former radicals and Sufis to speak out against
hardline political Islam.
So the violent approach of the US to terrorism in Pakistan has created a major terrorist threat in the UK which is being handled, as all terrorism should be, with intelligence, social governance and policing. Terrorism is a crime, after all.
Why is Pakistan the target of US violence while the UK is not, to the detriment of US security? Are we seeing evidence of “the white man’s burden?”
Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.
— Rudyard Kipling
The US is being weighed and found wanting by Pakistan’s not-so-silent, sullen, 173 million-strong people. It seems to me that while Obama was elected Black, he’s acting (in a Kiplingesque sense) White. Barry apparently left his Change on the table.
Don Bacon is a retired army officer who founded the Smedley Butler Society several years ago because, as General Butler said, war is a racket.