Sunday, April 07, 2013

It's Quiet. Too Quiet?

We aren't striking targets in Pakistan with our drones lately. And we are threatening to go after targets in Quetta, Pakistan, outside our usual target area. Are these two things related?

According to the Washington Post:

[Only] one U.S. drone attack has been reported, in Pakistan nearly a month ago.

What is unclear, among the many murky aspects of the secret program, is whether the slowdown in strikes is part of a policy decision affecting targeted killings in Yemen and Pakistan, or simply a temporary lack of targets.

And according to Strategypage:

The U.S. is also letting Pakistan know that the Taliban sanctuary in Quetta should not be immune from U.S. UAV operations and that might change whether the Pakistanis like it or not. Afghan Taliban are planning and carrying out terror attacks on Afghans and Americans from the Quetta sanctuary and that is unacceptable to Americans. Pakistan has consistently lied about its efforts to shut down terrorist sanctuaries on its territory.

Are we shifting assets to Quetta from the usual approved target area? Are we just holding off to let Pakistan know we are not just hired guns going after jihadis out of favor in Islamabad while Pakistanis shield other jihadis? Are we just pausing to allow jihadis to get sloppy in personal anti-drone security habits before we unleash the hounds, again? Is it purely related to the president's pending (and overdue from their announcements) public statement on drone use?

Or maybe we just don't have good targets left lately. Hard to say.

UPDATE: Or is the pause in strikes because the Pentagon is taking over the CIA program prior to a presidential announcement of that shift?

The growing speculation that the White House is preparing to shift its secretive drone program from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Pentagon is raising new questions about just how much more transparency this move would portend.

Transparency--as if this is a domestic law enforcement issue--just isn't important to me.