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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

 
"A threat that is serious and not speculative"

by digby

This strikes me as being very bad:

The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.

“It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

Copies of the top-secret U.S. intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards.

The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.”

In a response to questions from McClatchy, the White House defended its targeting policies, pointing to previous public statements by senior administration officials that the missile strikes are aimed at al Qaida and associated forces.

Micah Zenko, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank, who closely follows the target killing program, said McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is “misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”

The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”

If this is true it means that the administration has been lying through its teeth about this, which isn't as bad as doing it but it's very, very bad.  What exactly is supposed to be the point of this drone war if it's just killing a bunch of tribesmen? Is it a favor for Pakistan, a strategy to terrorize civilians into never ever being terrorists? What?

They need to come clean here because the way this sounds, it's target practice and that's just horrifying.

Update: More on the targeted killing operation from Zenko here. Also horrifying:

the CIA made this choice [to take up targeted killing], not because they thought it was the best strategy, but reportedly because they did not think they were capable of detaining and interrogating individuals without also torturing them.
.

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