Wednesday, October 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

CIA winds down drone strike program in Pakistan

CIA Drones-Pakistan

FILE - In this April 23, 2011, Pakistan women take part in a rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas in Peshawar, Pakistan. The secret targeted killing program that once was the mainstay of President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism effort appears to be winding down. In a major foreign policy speech at the U.S. Military Academy on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, Obama said the U.S. would continue to carry out occasional drone strikes, but he cited Yemen and Somalia, not Pakistan, where drone missiles once rained down at a rate of two per week. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad, file)

By
From page A7 | May 30, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — The CIA’s targeted killing program in Pakistan, once the mainstay of President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism effort, is winding down.

Because of stricter rules, diplomatic sensitivities and the changing nature of the al-Qaida threat, there hasn’t been a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan’s tribal areas since Christmas. And American officials say opportunities for drone attacks will dwindle further as the CIA and the military draw down in neighboring Afghanistan, reducing their intelligence-gathering footprint.

“The program (in Pakistan) appears to have ended,” said Peter Bergen, who has closely studied drone strikes for the New America Foundation, a Washington think tank.

U.S. officials won’t go that far, but Obama announced this week a plan to pull nearly all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016. The targeted killing program in Pakistan relies on drones flown from, and intelligence gathered in, U.S. bases in Afghanistan that would then be closed.

In a major foreign policy speech at the U.S. Military Academy Wednesday, Obama said the U.S. would continue to carry out occasional drone strikes against terrorist targets, but he cited Yemen and Somalia, not Pakistan, where Hellfire missiles once rained down at a rate of two per week.

Armed U.S. drones are still flying over Pakistan’s tribal areas, and CIA targeting officers are still nominating militants to the kill list, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the covert program publicly. But over the last five months, no missiles have been fired.

Several factors are driving the change, U.S. officials say. Many of the senior al-Qaida figures in Pakistan have been killed. Those who remain are much harder to target because they are avoiding mobile phones and traveling with children, benefiting from stricter targeting rules designed to prevent civilian casualties. The drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has eliminated the need for “force protection” strikes against large gatherings of militants in Pakistan suspected of plotting attacks against American troops.

Also, the tribal areas of Pakistan are no longer the hotbed of al-Qaida activity they once were. Hard core militants from Pakistan have gone to Syria and Yemen, home to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which U.S. officials consider the most dangerous al-Qaida affiliate.

And Obama administration officials are pushing to have the U.S. military, not the CIA, carry out drone strikes. Since the military generally requires permission from a country to operate on its territory, most analysts don’t believe it could carry out regular drone attacks in Pakistan.

The CIA and the White House declined to comment.

For as long as they are able to fly over Pakistan, CIA drones will hunt for senior al-Qaida figures, including Ayman al-Zawahri, the group’s leader, U.S. officials say. If the agency gets a clean shot at such a target next week or next year, it will push the button, officials say.

But as the CIA closes its remote Afghanistan outposts where case officers met with Pakistani sources and technicians eavesdropped on cell phones, intelligence collection will dry up, making militants harder to track and hit without harming noncombatants.

“By the end of this year we will have a noticeable degradation in our ability to collect intelligence on people of concern,” Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said.

Without commenting explicitly about drone strikes, Rogers, R-Mich., criticized what he calls “a pullback in the counterterrorism strategy,” a move he says “has made Americans a little less safe.”

The current drone cease fire in Pakistan is by far the longest pause since President George W. Bush ordered a stepped-up campaign of targeted strikes in that country’s tribal area in the summer of 2008. The pace intensified under Obama. All told, there have been 354 strikes in Pakistan since 2004, according to Long War Journal, a website that tracks the strikes through media reports.

But the rate of strikes began falling in 2011 and decreased each year since. Last year, Obama announced stricter targeting criteria, including a provision that no strike would occur unless there was “a near certainty” that civilians would not be harmed.

Even before that, American officials appear to have made the calculation that it was no longer worth attacking lower level militants in Pakistan, given the bitter opposition to the strikes in that country. Two studies, one by the New America Foundation and one by researchers at NYU and Stanford, estimate that as few as 2% of those killed in Pakistan drone strikes since 2004 have been senior militants. Most killed were lower level fighters, and some fraction–how large is disputed–have been civilians.

Obama seemed to allude to the backlash Wednesday when he said, “Our actions should meet a simple test: we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.”

In December, the Obama administration reached an informal deal with Pakistan that the CIA would suspend drone strikes — except against the most senior al-Qaida leaders_while the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pursues peace talks with the Taliban. The talks have sputtered, and last week, Pakistani fighter jets killed more than 60 people in North Waziristan, a militant stronghold, according to local media reports.

But Pakistani officials say the cessation in drone strikes has strengthened support for counterterrorism operations among a public that deeply resented an American bombing campaign on its soil. The hiatus has made the government feel that the U.S. is hearing Pakistan’s concerns, said one senior official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment by name.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Middle school students put school candidates on the hot seat

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Suisun City candidates get lively in 2nd council forum

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
Solano focuses on rail safety

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
 
Booz and Brewz benefit for the Blue Star Moms

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Police search for missing man

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Caltrans cancels nighttime Highway 37 closures

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

Salvation Army gears up for annual Red Kettle campaign

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Blessing of the animals slated Sunday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
Travis airman killed in motorcycle accident

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
Theaters primed for bevy of new movies

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

Suisun City police log: Sept. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

Suisun City police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: Sept. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9, 2 Comments

 
FBI announces reward for Vacaville bank robber

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A10

American Legion seeks Korean War veterans for award

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Third Annual Ride to Defeat Diabetes is Sunday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

4-H Achievement Night honors county members

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A10

 
Measure A committee plans weekend precinct walk

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A10

.

US / World

Forest areas reopen after huge fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hong Kong leader refuses to meet with protesters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Secret Service chief on hot seat for WH breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Afghan pact signed amid questions on Iraq pullout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Police on manhunt find pipe bombs in woods

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Oklahoma man charged with murder in beheading

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Luck, instinct determined fates of volcano hikers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Government confirms first case of Ebola in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Mayor of suburban Los Angeles city killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
Crash, suspicious device lead to 101 closure in LA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Gov. Brown governor vetoes ethics bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 6 Comments

 
California becomes first state to ban plastic bags

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 6 Comments

Bay Area looks to expand overnight transit options

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Gov. Jerry Brown signs California gun restriction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 12 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

One simple slicing trick to bake a beautiful tart

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

 
A speedy, kitchen sink approach to pumpkin bread

By J.M. Hirsch | From Page: B6

The flavor of fall – pumpkin pie in a cinnamon bun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
Morgan: ‘Can’t believe’ Walmart blaming him

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Raiders make Tony Sparano interim coach after firing Allen

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Royals beat A’s 9-8 in 12 in AL wild-card thriller

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local report: Rodriguez volleyball team downs Armijo

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Pirates’ Volquez looks to continue revival against Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
FCC will consider petition to ban ‘Redskins’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Training camp essential for NBA’s new head coaches like Warriors’ Kerr

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
No. 14 Stanford trying to jolt stagnant offense

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NC State coach apologizes for fake injury remarks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL says Abdullah should not have been penalized

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL has laundry list of verboten celebrations

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Government: NFL TV ‘blackout’ rule unsportsmanlike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Olympian Michael Phelps apologizes for DUI arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Gravely injured Giants fan sues Dodgers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Ex 49ers RB James agrees to terms with Dolphins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers’ Wilhoite filling the injury void at linebacker

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Business

EU says Apple gets illegal tax benefits in Ireland

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Could a merger follow the PayPal-eBay split?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Obituaries

John ‘Bo’ M. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
David Earl Butenhoff-Forristall

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Marte Abad Lubag

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Clara May Clift Triplett

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

.

Breast Cancer Awareness 2014

Breast cancer in younger women

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA2

Talking with your doctor

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA3

Breast cancer myths

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA4

Diet linked to cancer

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA9

Giving emotional support

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA10

After the treatment

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA12

Join the fight: Get involved

By Green Shoot Media | From Page: BCA15