Three weeks ago I did a radio piece about the debate over the use of U.S. drones (unmanned aircraft) to strike al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan. That story focused on whether the tactical gains of killing terrorism suspects were outweighed by the strategic downsides, namely the enormous resentment in Pakistan over civilian casualties and the perception of a U.S. war on Pakistani territory. Yesterday I completed a second radio story about drones, this one attempting to focus on the differences (and whether they matter) between CIA drones and U.S. Air Force drones. Here’s the link:
Because the U.S. is not at war with Pakistan the drones used over Pakistan are CIA drones, not U.S. military drones. Critics bring up a number of concerns–whether the covert program uses looser rules of engagement or bigger bombs that might contribute to the high rate of civilian casualties in Pakistan, but also whether assassination from the air is the proper role of the CIA anyway. It’s frustrating not to be able to get at the CIA side of the story–the agency doesn’t comment one way or the other on the drone program and the rules of engagement are classified. Still more to say on drones; I’ll keep at it!