Quote Of The Day

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Drone Program Is Under Scrutiny

EXCLUSIVE -- JANE MAYER in the new NEW YORKER, 'The Political Scene -- THE PREDATOR WAR: What are the risks of the C.I.A.'s covert drone program -- The 'push-button' approach to fighting Al Qaeda represents a radically new use of state-sanctioned lethal force': '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. ... [T]he 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. ...

'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. ... 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. ... 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. ...The Obama Administration has also widened the scope of authorized drone attacks in Afghanistan.'** A message from GlaxoSmithKline: Many diseases like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and some cancers can be prevented or better managed. With the Triple Solution for a Healthier America, we can tackle chronic diseases three ways: Prevention, Intervention, Innovation. **