Drone Leak Could Undermine Counterterrorism Efforts
Top: photo of a U.S. Predator attack drone armed with a missile at the Kandahar military airport in Afghanistan, June 13, 2010. (MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images) Bottom: Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee, February 7, 2013. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
February 8, 2013
| Security
| Asia and the Pacific, Middle East and North Africa
The leak of a Justice Department memo on U.S. policy to conduct targeted drone killings of suspected al-Qaeda members coupled with a high-profile debate on Capitol Hill on the use of drones could undermine this highly effective program by increasing pressure on the Obama administration to change its policy. The leaks could also put White House and CIA officials at increased risk of politicized legal actions abroad, as LIGNET explains.
The use of drones to conduct targeted killings has been an essential element of the U.S. campaign to undermine the ability of al-Qaeda and its affiliates to conduct terrorist attacks. Since the 9-11 attacks, estimates of the number of people killed by U.S. drones ranges from a few hundred to as many as 3,500, the vast majority of them in Pakistan’s tribal area, bordering Afghanistan. Successful drone attacks have allowed the United States to decimate the leadership of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and disrupt the activities of its affiliate groups elsewhere.
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