October 22, 2012
The CIA has asked the White House to increase the number of drones it employs to transform it into a paramilitary force, despite recent statistics that show the majority of drone deaths are civilians.
CIA Director David Petraeus submitted a proposal that could add as many as 10 drones to a program that currently ranges between 30 to 35 of the unmanned aerial vehicles. The increase would allow the agency to continue launching lethal strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, as well as target developing terror threats in other regions of the world, according to a report first acquired by the Washington Post.
The White House Counterterrorism Security Group, chaired by John O. Brennan, has not yet made a decision regarding the proposal. But Pentagon officials have previously expressed concern about the CIA’s increasing involvement in targeted killing missions, rather than focusing mainly on gathering information.
If the CIA proposal is accepted, the agency could expand its target areas to include al-Qaeda affiliates in West Africa, particularly in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali, the United Press International reported. The agency would also continue its search in Afghanistan for bin Laden successor Ayman al-Zawahiri.
“With what happened in Libya, we’re realizing that these places are going to hear up,” an anonymous official told The Washington Post. “I think we’re actually looking forward a little bit.”
The CIA and the Pentagon’s elite Joint Special Operations Command have increasingly shared and switched roles in their affairs abroad. While the JSOC more frequently engages in espionage, the CIA has been borrowing military aircraft to carry out even more lethal strikes.
The CIA request for more drones comes as Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik claims that 80 percent of those killed in US drone attacks are civilians. In 336 US-launched drone strikes in Pakistan, about 2,500 to 3,000 people are estimated to have been killed. According to a Stanford and New York University study, only two percent of causalities are top militants.
“The Americans themselves often don’t know who they’ve hit,” campaigner and film-maker Carol Grayson told RT. “And this huge discrepancy over the figures… we’re finding out that a lot more civilians are being killed. But these are the people that the Americans don’t tell you about. And they actually class these people as ‘other.’”
In early October, Malik asked the US to share its drone technology with Pakistan, claiming his government could do a better job at targeting terrorists without using them irresponsibly. But rather than share drones, the CIA wants more for its agency to use.
If the White House grants Petraeus the requested increase, the agency may be found triggering drone attacks all throughout the Muslim world.
This article first appeared on RT.com.