March 22, 2009

THANKS, W:

U.S. missile strikes take heavy toll on Al Qaeda, officials say: Predator drone attacks in northwest Pakistan have increased sharply since Bush last year stopped seeking Pakistan's permission. Obama may keep pace as officials speak of confusion in Al Qaeda ranks. (Greg Miller, March 22, 2009, LA Times)

An intense, six-month campaign of Predator strikes in Pakistan has taken such a toll on Al Qaeda that militants have begun turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say.

The pace of the Predator attacks has accelerated dramatically since August, when the Bush administration made a previously undisclosed decision to abandon the practice of obtaining permission from the Pakistani government before launching missiles from the unmanned aircraft.

Since Aug. 31, the CIA has carried out at least 38 Predator strikes in northwest Pakistan, compared with 10 reported attacks in 2006 and 2007 combined, in what has become the CIA's most expansive targeted killing program since the Vietnam War.

Because of its success, the Obama administration is set to continue the accelerated campaign despite civilian casualties that have fueled anti-U.S. sentiment and prompted protests from the Pakistani government.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 22, 2009 6:19 AM
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