CIA Director acknowledges, defends drone strikes in Pakistan

CIA Director Leon Panetta made an extremely rare public acknowledgement of the CIA unmanned drone strikes in Pakistan, while speaking recently before the Pacific Council on International Policy. Panetta was speaking in reaction to a May 17 article in The New York Times by David Kilcullen, former counterinsurgency adviser to US Army General David Petraeus, and Center for a New American Security fellow Andrew Exum. Kilcullen and Exum joined intelNews in its March 15 condemnation of the illegal and counterproductive CIA airstrikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have killed hundreds of civilians in recent months. The CIA Director refused to engage in a discussion about the specifics of “how any of this happens”. “We’re not getting into that”, he said. But he did claim that “in terms of that particular area [presumably Pakistan]” the CIA airstrikes are “very precise and […] very limited in terms of collateral damage”. Replying to a follow-up question from the audience, Panetta said: “[v]ery frankly, [the drone attacks are] the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al-Qaeda leadership”. No end in sight, therefore, for the CIA strikes, which will soon begin to be replicated by the US Pentagon.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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