Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 2 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 2 (4 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   2 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

CIA's Push for Drone War Driven by Internal Needs

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 9/5/11



When David Petraeus walks into the Central Intelligence Agency Tuesday, he will be taking over an organization whose mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analyzing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia.


But the transformation of the CIA did not simply follow the expansion of the drone war in Pakistan to its present level. CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment.

The reason Hayden pushed for a much bigger drone war, it now appears, is that it had already created a whole bureaucracy in the anticipation of such a war.

During 2010, the CIA "drone war" in Pakistan killed as many as 1,000 people a year, compared with the roughly 2,000 a year officially estimated to have been killed by the SOF "night raids" in Afghanistan, according to a report in the Sep. 1 Washington Post.

A CIA official was quoted by the Post as saying that the CIA had become "one hell of a killing machine," before quickly revising the phrase to "one hell of an operational tool."


The shift in the CIA mission's has been reflected in the spectacular growth of its Counter-terrorism Center (CTC) from 300 employees in September 2001 to about 2,000 people today -- 10 percent of the agency's entire workforce, according to the Post report.

The agency's analytical branch, which had been previously devoted entirely to providing intelligence assessments for policymakers, has been profoundly affected.

More than one-third of the personnel in the agency's analytical branch are now engaged wholly or primarily in providing support to CIA operations, according to senior agency officials cited by the Post. And nearly two-thirds of those are analyzing data used by the CTC drone war staff to make decisions on targeting.

Some of that shift of internal staffing to support of the drone has followed the rise in the number of drone strikes in Pakistan since mid-2008, but the CIA began to lay the institutional basis for a bigger drone campaign well before that.

Crucial to understanding the role of internal dynamics in CIA decisions on the issue is the fact that the drone campaign in Pakistan started off very badly. During the four years from 2004 through 2007, the CIA carried out a total of only 12 drone strikes in Pakistan, all supposedly aimed at identifiable high-value targets of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

The George W. Bush administration's policy on use of drones was cautious in large part because the President of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was considered such a reliable ally that the administration was reluctant to take actions that would risk destabilizing his regime.

Thus relatively tight constraints were imposed on the CIA in choosing targets for drone strikes. They were only to be used against known "high-value" officials of Al-Qaeda and their affiliates in Pakistan, and the CIA had to have evidence that no civilians would be killed as a result of the strike.

Those first 12 strikes killed only three identifiable Al-Qaeda or Pakistani Taliban figures. But despite the prohibition against strikes that would incur "collateral damage," the same strikes killed a total of 121 civilians, as revealed by a thorough analysis of news media reports.

A single strike against a madrassa on Oct. 26, 2006 that killed 80 local students accounted for two-thirds of the total of civilian casualties.

Despite that disastrous start, however, the CIA had quickly become deeply committed internally to building a major program around the drone war. In 2005, the agency had created a career track in targeting for the drone program for analysts in the intelligence directorate, the Sep. 2 Post article revealed.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Gareth Porter (born 18 June 1942, Independence, Kansas) is an American historian, investigative journalist and policy analyst on U.S. foreign and military policy. A strong opponent of U.S. wars in Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, he has also (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

How Mistress Helped Petraeus

From Military-Industrial Complex to Permanent War State

Why Washington Clings to a Failed Middle East Strategy

Obama to Israel: No US War on Iran

Gates Conceals Real Story of "Gaming" Obama on Afghan War

Did Netanyahu Seek War with Iran?

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

I read about a year ago in discussions on reducing... by Kevin Kakareka on Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011 at 5:48:35 PM
When has the CIA not been a killing machine? ... by Sister Begonia on Wednesday, Sep 7, 2011 at 10:38:59 AM