The Obama administration quietly decided last March to allow Pakistan to choose some of its own targets for drone attacks, according to the New Yorker…
Earlier last week, the magazine published a piece on the use of unmanned aircraft to target Al Qaeda and Taliban suspects in Fata. On Sunday, its author Jane Mayer gave an online interview to the readers, telling them that the Obama administration agreed to allow Pakistanis to select targets to calm down Islamabad’s protests over the drone attacks.
The journalist, who interviewed senior US intelligence officials for the interview, wrote that on Aug 5, officials at the Central Intelligence Agency, in Langley, Virginia, watched a live video feed relaying close-up footage of Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan.
‘He could be seen reclining on the rooftop of his father-in-law’s house, in Zanghara, a hamlet in South Waziristan. It was a hot summer night, and he was joined outside by his wife and his uncle, a medic; at one point, the remarkably crisp images showed that Mehsud, who suffered from diabetes and a kidney ailment, was receiving an intravenous drip.
‘The image remained just as stable when the CIA remotely launched two Hellfire missiles from the Predator. Authorities watched the fiery blast in real time. After the dust cloud dissipated, all that remained of Mehsud was a detached torso. Eleven others died: his wife, his father-in-law, his mother-in-law, a lieutenant, and seven bodyguards.’
In her interview, Ms Mayer noted that the use of unmanned aircraft to kill militants had both good news and bad news. According to the CIA, they’ve killed more than half of the 20 most wanted Al Qaeda suspects. The bad news is that they’ve inflamed anti-American sentiment, because they’ve also killed hundreds of civilians.
It’s way too easy to repeat some facile slogan about “War is Hell”. Politicians rely on the trick all the time. So do preachers and other pundits.
Civil War still seems to be the most reliable solution to divisions built into Pakistan [and Afghan] politics by the American flavor of Cold Warriors over the decades. The closest thing to democratic elements in those societies seem to be the side we support. Any other choices at hand?