Obama widens drone attacks in Pakistan

The Obama administration has granted secret permission to the CIA to carry out more indiscriminate drone missile strikes in Pakistan, even as protests over civilian casualties caused by the attacks continue to grow.

Officials revealed this week that the US intelligence agency is operating under rules that allow it to target suspected “militants” in Pakistan based upon “pattern of life” analyses, without even ascertaining their identity. For the most part, they acknowledge, the names of those assassinated with Hellfire missiles fired from Predator and the larger Reaper drones are never known.

This description of the drone program flies in the face of official propaganda, which has presented the missile attacks as part of a carefully prepared exercise in “targeted killings” aimed against high-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But according to the Los Angeles Times, which cited current and former intelligence officials, “The CIA received secret permission to attack a wider range of targets, including militants whose names are not known, as part of a dramatic expansion of drone strikes in Pakistan’s border region.”

The newspaper reported that the initial permission to broaden the drone campaign came during the last year of the Bush administration, but has been continued and even widened under the presidency of Barack Obama.

“Instead of just a few dozen attacks per year, CIA operated unmanned aircraft now carry out multiple missile strikes each week against safe houses, training camps and other hiding places used by militants in the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan,” the LA Times notes.

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