June 16, 2011

KENNETH ANDERSON: DOD or CIA in Yemen? “Before turning to the legal question, let me say first that one of the most important features of the WSJ and WaPo reporting was the observation that apparently one of the reasons the CIA was being tasked with the mission was because of its experience in Pakistan not merely in running drones — which, after all, are often actually piloted by USAF — but rather in the utterly crucial intelligence-gathering operations on the ground that make possible what the drones do with missiles. The success of the drone program in counterterrorism operations in Pakistan has come about, so I have been told, on account of the CIA managing over the past several years to set up its own ground-level intelligence gathering operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan — independent of Pakistan’s ISI. That independence has been crucial, for obvious reasons (to readers of The Onion, anyway) and apparently that ability to independently determine targets, not just independently strike at them, has greatly irritated Pakistan’s military. This illustrates a crucial feature about targeted killing through drone warfare or, for that matter, using human teams. It is not solely a technology, the technology of drones, but instead equally or more dependent on an extraordinary intelligence effort at the ground level in order to identify targets.”

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