CIA Given the Go-Ahead to Send Robot Death in Pakistan

Nobel Peace Prize Winner and U.S. President Barack Obama has, it appears, given the go ahead to the CIA to send its Predtor drones out into the Pakistani countryside at any targets it so chooses.

The CIA received secret permission to attack a wider range of targets, including suspected militants whose names are not known, as part of a dramatic expansion of its campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan’s border region, according to current and former counter-terrorism officials.

The expanded authority, approved two years ago by the Bush administration and continued by President Obama, permits the agency to rely on what officials describe as “pattern of life” analysis, using evidence collected by surveillance cameras on the unmanned aircraft and from other sources about individuals and locations.

The information then is used to target suspected militants, even when their full identities are not known, the officials said. Previously, the CIA was restricted in most cases to killing only individuals whose names were on an approved list.

The new rules have transformed the program from a narrow effort aimed at killing top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders into a large-scale campaign of airstrikes in which few militants are off-limits, as long as they are deemed to pose a threat to the U.S., the officials said.

Given that this is the same CIA that assured us that the case for “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq was a “slam dunk”, told us that the Soviet Union’s economy would eclipse our own a few years before it collapsed entirely, and has unsuccessfully assassinated Fidel Castro approximately 973 times, I’m certain that we can trust them to be only hitting the correct targets.

Of course, the fact that we are not currently at war with Pakistan, that Congress has not authorized any military action in Pakistan, and that Pakistan has not authorized U.S. strikes within their borders is often deemed irrelevant in this scenario. But dammit, it should be front and center. The President of the United States may be the commander-in-chief, but decisions about whether to go to war should be left up to the Congress. I realize that Congress has truly given up having any say in these matters of the past 40 years, but we really should demand that that change. The President should not, at his discretion, allow the CIA free reign to send robot planes to bomb targets in a foreign country.

No matter how many damned “Peace” prizes he’s won.

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