Drone strikes

Someone sent me a link to this ABC News story about the new generation of US drone strikes which are much more accurate than previously thanks to new technology linking on the ground informants with the drones:

Current and former Pakistani intelligence agents say residents of the area who are helping the United States have access to what locals call “pathris,” literally “small things” — referred to by one agent as a “gadget” — that can be thrown into homes and used as targeting signals.

Of course this means much stronger retaliation against these on-the-ground informants from the Taliban:

In the most recent case, two bodies were dumped on the side of the road in Ghulam Khan early this month with notes pinned to their chests. They read, “If someone spies for America they will also suffer like this,” villagers told local journalists.

Interestingly, the US does not seem to be interested in sharing either this technology, or its new network of informants with Pakistani intelligence. This is not exactly surprising if David Sanger’s account of Gillani’s disastrous attempt to “surprise” Bush with the news of the Haqqani madrassah raid last year is to be believed:

The National Security Agency had picked up intercepts indicating that a Pakistani unit warned the leadership of the school about what was coming before carrying out its raid. “They must have called 1-800-HAQQANI,” said one person who was familiar with the intercepted conversation. According to another, the account of the warning sent to the school was almost comic. “It was something like, ‘Hey, we’re going to hit your place in a few days, so if anyone important is there, you might want to tell them to scram.’ ”

When the “attack” on the madrassa came, the Pakistani forces grabbed a few guns and hauled away a few teenagers. Sure enough, a few days later Gilani showed up in the Oval Office and conveyed the wonderful news to Bush: the great crackdown on the madrassas had begun. The officials in the room — Bush; his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley; and others — did not want to confront Gilani with the evidence that the school had been warned. That would have required revealing sensitive intercepts, and they judged, according to participants in the discussion, that Gilani was both incapable of keeping a secret and incapable of cracking down on his military and intelligence units. Indeed, Gilani may not even have been aware that his gift was a charade: Bush and Hadley may well have known more about the military’s actions than the prime minister himself.

What a tangled web, huh.


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