The Wall Street Journal
February 18, 2009
Pakistan’s leaders have publicly denounced U.S. missile strikes as an attack on the country’s sovereignty, but privately Pakistani military and intelligence officers are aiding these attacks and have given significant support to recent U.S. missions, say officials from both countries.
American unmanned Predator aircraft have killed scores of Islamic militants in Pakistan in more than 30 missile strikes since August, provoking outrage in the South Asian nation. Two in the past four days have killed more than 50 suspected militants. Yet, with the Taliban pushing deeper into the country, Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders, while publicly condemning the attacks, have come to see the strikes as effective and are passing on intelligence that has helped recent missions, say officials from both countries.
As a result, “the Predator strikes are more and more precise,” said a Pakistani official.
Eleven of al Qaeda’s top 20 commanders have been killed or captured since August because of the Predator missions conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to the Pakistani official, and current and former U.S. intelligence officials.
Dennis C. Blair, the new U.S. director of national intelligence, said last week that “a succession of blows” to al Qaeda in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas have thrown the group off balance, forcing it to promote inexperienced operators to leadership posts.