CIA's Drone Program in Pakistan Began with Assassination Deal

Search form

CIA's Drone Program in Pakistan Began with Assassination Deal

CIA's Drone Program in Pakistan Began with Assassination Deal
Mon, 4/8/2013 - by Caroline Bankoff
This article originally appeared on New York Magazine

A book excerpt that appears on the front page of Sunday's New York Times reveals that the United States' drone program in Pakistan was allowed to begin because the CIA agreed to take out a man the Pakistani government considered an enemy of the state. In The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth (out on Tuesday), journalist Mark Mazzetti describes the details of the deal: In 2004, Pakistani officials were growing increasingly frustrated by Nek Muhammad, a Taliban-affiliated militant who led a string of successful attacks against Pakistan's military in the country's tribal areas over the years. Their attempts to kill Muhammad on their own had failed, as had a brief truce with him.

"Pakistani officials had, for several years, balked at the idea of allowing armed C.I.A. Predators to roam their skies. They considered drone flights a violation of sovereignty, and worried that they would invite further criticism of [then President Pervez Musharraf] as being Washington’s lackey," writes Mazzetti. However, the military's intelligence officials finally agreed to allow the American drones into their airspace after then CIA director George Tenet offered to murder Muhammad in exchange. When a missile blew up Muhammad's South Waziristan compound — killing him and several others — the Pakistani military took credit for the deaths. The CIA was never mentioned in any official accounts of the incident, which was targeted killing conducted by an American drone in Pakistan. As we now know, the attack preceded hundreds of similar strikes, though the targets are at least supposed to be people who pose a direct threat to American interests.

Mazzetti goes on to note that CIA's shift toward the drone program was prompted by a desire to get rid of its network of secret prisons, which, as an internal report had recently revealed, were rife with prisoner abuse, leaving the agency vulnerable to charges of war crimes, among other things. "[The Muhammad] deal paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization." While increased public awareness of drone killings has put some pressure on President Obama and current CIA head John Brennan to be more transparent about the program, scaling it back will be even more difficult than a 13-hour filibuster. As Mazzetti writes, "With a generation of C.I.A. officers now fully engaged in a new mission, it is an effort that could take years."

Originally published in New York Magazine.

 

Article Tabs

Deutsche Bank, Libor, Georgina Philippou, Barclays

The penalties on Germany’s largest bank also involve a guilty plea to the Department of Justice.

Edward Snowden, whistleblowers, NSA surveillance programs, American Civil Liberties Union, Reform Government Surveillance coalition, Patriot Act

According to a worldwide poll, a large and important segment of global society sees Edward Snowden as hero and whistleblower — and its members are the future.

police killings, police brutality, Freddie Gray

Outrage over the police killing of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore continued on Thursday after hundreds demonstrated in front of the Western District police station where Gray was taken following his arrest on April 12.

This Earth Day, an apology to future generations from Prince Ea.

Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, fast track authority, Bernie Sanders, wealth inequality, income inequality, populist candidate, money in politics, Citizens United

Whether or not this opponent of the billionaire class, corporate greed, Wall Street and environmental degradation – and this champion of working people, the unemployed, retirees, and student debtors – is our next president will be entirely up to us.

The number of homeless children has grown by 60 percent in the past six years.

Posted 5 days 21 hours ago

“We are convinced that the entire public interest is at stake, whether water, energy, health, and public transport – the communities are largely deprived of their ability to act."

Posted 4 days 20 hours ago
Danish wind power, Danish renewables movement, wind power technology

Wind power in Denmark has created tens of thousands of jobs, yet it's still facing stiff opposition from corporations and politicians.

Posted 3 days 21 hours ago
99%, occupy, OWS

What happened to Occupy should serve as a warning to everyone about the dangerous fusion of corporate interests and our public institutions.

Posted 3 days 20 hours ago
fast track legislation, fast track authority, Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, Bernie Sanders, corporate trade deal

This job-killing trade deal has been negotiated in secret, drafted with input by special interests and corporate lobbyists but not from the American people.

Posted 2 days 15 hours ago
Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, fast track authority, Bernie Sanders, wealth inequality, income inequality, populist candidate, money in politics, Citizens United

Whether or not this opponent of the billionaire class, corporate greed, Wall Street and environmental degradation – and this champion of working people, the unemployed, retirees, and student debtors – is our next president will be entirely up to us.

killed environmentalists, climate talks, carbon emissions

Artificial, self-important UN summits could not be further from the frontline of protest, where environmentalists are being killed at an alarming rate.

mass incarceration, black imprisonment

For every 100 black women ages 25 to 54 who are not in jail, there are only 83 black men – the rest are missing largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars.

bank tellers protest, predatory lending, predatory bank services

The newest line of criticism for the banking industry is coming from within, as a group of rank-and-file banking employees from the country's largest commercial banks demand that their employer stop ordering them to use predatory sales tactics.

99%, occupy, OWS

What happened to Occupy should serve as a warning to everyone about the dangerous fusion of corporate interests and our public institutions.

Sign Up