Several people inside the CIA itself have consistently expressed frustration at the ongoing use of unmanned drones being used in the "war on terror" in Afghanistan and elsewhere. For CIA opertives and military personal on the front lines the relentless pursuit of a failed foreign policy by a neoconservative and now a neoliberal administration that increases anger and thereby creates more terrorists can be perceived as insulting and as a disregard for their personal welfare. A wonder that more CIA footsoldiers aren't "going rogue" and giving up this war for profit and in the process saving their own lives. Mistreatment of front line military and intelligence personal to justify ongoing endless warfare and profits by weapons corporations is a recipe for a coup against the status quo neoliberals and neoconservatives.
CIA Drone Operators Oppose Strikes as Helping al Qaeda
By Gareth Porter*
"WASHINGTON, Jun 3, 2010 (IPS) - Some CIA officers involved in the agency's drone strikes programme in Pakistan and elsewhere are privately expressing their opposition to the programme within the agency, because it is helping al Qaeda and its allies recruit, according to a retired military officer in contact with them.
"Some of the CIA operators are concerned that, because of its blowback effect, it is doing more harm than good," said Jeffrey Addicott, former legal adviser to U.S. Special Forces and director of the Centre for Terrorism Law at St Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, in an interview with IPS.
Addicott said the CIA operatives he knows have told him the drone strikes are being used effectively by al Qaeda and Taliban leaders to recruit more militants.
CIA officers "are very upset" with the drone strike policy, Addicott said. "They'll do what the boss says, but they view it as a harmful exercise."
"They say we're largely killing rank and file Pakistani Taliban, and they are the ones who are agitated by the campaign," he added.
Because the drone strikes kill innocent civilians and bystanders along with leaders from far away, they "infuriate the Muslim male", said Addicott, thus making them more willing to join the movement. The men in Pakistan's tribal region "view Americans as cowards and weasels", he added.
Addicott retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2000 after serving for six years as senior legal adviser to the Special Operations Forces but is still a consultant for the U.S. military on issues of terrorism and law.
Addicot said the CIA officers expressing concern about the blowback effects of the drone policy are "mid-grade and below".
They learned about the impact of drone strikes on recruiting by extremist leaders in Pakistan from intelligence gathered by CIA and the National Security Agency, which intercepts electronic communications, according to Addicott.
They have informed high-level CIA officials about their concerns that the programme is backfiring, Addicott told IPS.
"The people at the top are not believers," said Addicott, referring to the CIA. "They know that the objective is not going to be achieved."
The complaints by CIA operatives about the drone strikes' blowback effect reported by Addicott are identical to warnings by military and intelligence officials reported in April 2009 by Jonathan Landay of McClatchy newspapers. Landay quoted an intelligence official with deep involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan as saying al Qaeda and the Taliban had used the strikes in propaganda to "portray Americans as cowards who are afraid to face their enemies and risk death".
The official called the operations "a major catalyst" for the jihadi movement in Pakistan.
A military official involved in counterterrorism operations told Landay the drone strikes were a "recruiting windfall for the Pakistani Taliban".
The CIA operatives' opposition to the drone strikes programme extends to Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, all of which now have confirmed deaths from drone strikes, according to Addicott.
The official goal of the geographical expansion of drone strikes is to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda. But al Qaeda is less a major organisation than "a mentality" in most Middle Eastern countries, Addicott said, and the CIA officers fear that the strikes will only reinforce that way of thinking.
Addicott said the drone programme has been driven by President Barack Obama, rather than by the CIA. "Obama's trying to show people that we're winning," he added.
The programme was originally authorised by President George W. Bush against a relatively short list of high-level al Qaeda officials, and with highly restrictive conditions on approval of each strike. The strike could not be approved unless the target was identified with high confidence, and a complete assessment of "collateral damage" had to ensure against significant civilian casualties.
In early 2008, however, Bush approved the removal of previous restraints. As recounted by David Sanger in his 2009 book, "The Inheritance", Bush authorised strikes against targets merely based on visual evidence of a "typical" al Qaeda motorcade or a group entering a house that had been linked to al Qaeda or its Pakistani Taliban allies.
As a top national security aide to Bush acknowledged to Sanger, the shift was "risky" because, "you can hit the wrong house or mistakenly misidentify the motorcade".
It also meant that anyone who could be linked in some way to al Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces" could now be targeted for drone attacks.
The Obama administration has continued to justify the programme as aimed at high-value targets, suggesting that it can degrade al Qaeda as an organisation by a "decapitation" strategy, according to Addicott. However administration officials now privately admit that the objective of the programme is to "demoralise the rank and file", he said.
That won't work, according to Addicott, because, "These are tribal people. They don't view life and death the way we expect them to."
In effect, the drone strikes programme has become an "attrition" strategy for Pakistan, Addicott said.
Such a strategy in Pakistan's tribal region appears to be futile. Madrassas in the region have churned out tens of thousands of young men with militant views, and their activities are spread across hundreds of sites in the region. A U.S. military intelligence official told Bill Roggio of The Long War Journal in 2009 that there were 157 training camps and "more than 400 support locations" in the tribal northwest.
Within the administration, it appears that the logic behind the programme is that it has to be seen to be doing something about al Qaeda. "The argument I get from people associated with the programme," said Micah Zenko, a fellow in Conflict Prevention at the Council on Foreign Relations, "is the same as the one [CIA Director Leon] Panetta gave last year."
"Very frankly," Panetta declared May 18, 2009, "it's the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership."
Zenko, who has studied the bureaucratic in-fighting surrounding such limited uses of military force, told IPS drone strikes have appealed to the Obama administration because they offer "clear results that are obtained quickly and are easily measured".
All the other tools that might be used to try to reduce al Qaeda influence in Pakistan and elsewhere take a long time, require cooperation among multiple actors and have no powerful political constituency behind them, Zenko observed.
Dissent from those who are involved in the programme itself has little effect when it is up against what is perceived as political pressure to show progress against al Qaeda - no matter how illusory."
*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006. http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51706
The logical and realistic alternative to endless war;
The proposal is to alter the U.S. foreign policy to non-interventionism, where people of other nations are afforded the dignity of choosing their own government without CIA coups, assassinations and/or military occupations. The job of the CIA and the U.S. military is to defend the people of the U.S. against attack. These two organizations are not supposed to intervene in every nation's affairs as they have been since WW2.
Unfortunately the status quo of the neoconservative and neoliberal factions in the Republican and Democratic parties have pushed the concept of non-interventionism to the fringes, as it theatens the power structure of the military-industrial complex.
The neoconservative Republican establishment (and some neoliberals) have been especially cruel to non-interventionist candidate Dr. Ron Paul, heckling and slandering him at every turn;
Mr. Gary Bauer — The Supposed Christian as Slanderer, Israel-Firster, and War-Monger
By mike | Published: January 10, 2012
I just watched a television commercial paid for by the “Emergency Committee for Israel” in which Mr. Gary Bauer spends a minute or so defaming Dr. Paul as: a spinner of 9/11 conspiracies, an America-hater, an opponent of the U.S. military, a friend of Iran, and — that most lethal of all sins — a foe of “our ally Israel.” Now, that is a lot of lies to pack into a minute, but as a crazed-Christian one cannot expect the war-mongering Mr. Bauer to know that one of God’s commandments is “Thou shall not lie.”
The Republican Party’s fear of the potentially enormous popular appeal of Dr. Paul’s truth-telling in regard to foreign policy is palpable and understandable. Listen to Mr. Bauer’s commercial and you will know what the Republican establishment wants:
– (a) war with Iran, although Iran is no threat to the United States unless we or Israel attack Iran first
–(b) all the U.S. blood and treasure needed to ensure Israel is free to do what it wants to Palestine, although both Israel and Palestine are irrelevant to the economic and national-security interests of the United States except in the negative sense that both entities bleed the U.S. Treasury and keep us mired in their endless religious war
–(c) a popular belief that the U.S. military approves of Washington’s relentless, war-causing, and bankrupting interventionism, even though almost all campaign contributions from U.S. military personnel go to Dr. Paul
–(d) complete popular faith in the fallacy that 9/11 has been fully explained, although the 9/11 Commission’s archive has yet to be released and so Americans do not know how easily Osama bin Laden could have been killed in 1998-1999
– (e) Americans to hold the racist, counter-intuitive, and, indeed, brain-dead-Santorum-ite belief that Muslims are attacking us because of our freedom, gender equality, and liberty, a position the depends not on empirical evidence — there is none — but on the need of U.S. politicians to convince voters that their interventionism does not cause wars, which is as silly a belief as one that holds actions do not prompt reactions
After listening to Mr. Bauer, I think FOX television would be missing a bet if it did not create a program called “Lets Kill U.S. Kids and Bankrupt America.” The show could feature Bauer, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, and John Bolton explaining why America needs more and more wars and why the president is above the Constitution and can legally take the country to war without a declaration of war by Congress.
Two or three episodes of such a show would demonstrate the obvious to all Americans; that is, Dr. Paul is both the defender of the U.S. Constitution and the only Republican presidential candidate who champions America’s interests first, last, and always. Needless to say, it would also expose Mr. Bauer’s ignorance of the Lord’s prohibition against lying. http://non-intervention.com/