Feinstein is either incredibly stupid or guilty of threatening what is probably our best bet at knocking off OBL and his buddies. As chairwoman of the SIC I can not believe for a minute she doesn’t have a grasp of how volatile Pakistan’s political climate is and by shedding light on what is obviously a black operation most likely conducted by the CIA on Pakistani soil with permission from the Pakistani government, could force the Paks into first denying this operation then quietly closing it down for good. Read on:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an airbase inside that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counterterrorism collaboration with the United States.
The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on where the Predator aircraft patrolling Pakistan take off and land.
At a hearing, Feinstein expressed surprise at Pakistani opposition to the ongoing campaign of Predator-launched CIA missile strikes against Al Qaeda targets along Pakistan’s northwest border.
Are you that clueless about the political climate in Pakistan Senator?
“As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base,” she said of the planes.
The basing of the pilotless aircraft in Pakistan suggests a much deeper relationship with the United States on counterterrorism matters than has been publicly acknowledged. Such an arrangement would be at odds with protests lodged by officials in Islamabad and could inflame anti-American sentiment in the country.
The CIA declined to comment, but former U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, confirmed that Feinstein’s account was accurate.
Then some other self important putz tries to lend credence to this to make himself feel good.
Phil LaVelle, a spokesman for Feinstein, said her comment was based solely on previous news reports that Predators were operated from bases near Islamabad.
“We strongly object to Sen. Feinstein’s remarks being characterized as anything other than a reference” to a article that appeared last March in the Washington Post, LaVelle said. Feinstein did not refer to newspaper accounts during the hearing.
Now let’s make excuses for her idiocy and blame it on it already being public knowledge.
Many in counterterrorism experts have assumed that the aircraft were operated from U.S. military installations in Afghanistan, and remotely piloted from locations in the United States. Experts said the disclosure could create political problems for the fledgling government in Islamabad.
“If accurate, what this says is that Pakistani involvement, or at least acquiescence, has been much more extensive than has previously been known,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. “It puts the Pakistani government in a far more difficult position [in terms of] its credibility with its own people. Unfortunately it also has the potential to threaten Pakistani-American relations.”
Feinstein’s disclosure came during testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee by U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair on the nation’s security threats. Blair did not respond directly to Feinstein’s remark, except to say that Pakistan is “sorting out” its cooperation with the United States.
Pakistani officials have long denied that they ever granted the United States permission to fly the Predator planes over Pakistani territory, let alone to operate the aircraft from within the country.
The new civilian leadership has gone to significant lengths to distance itself from the Predator strikes, which are extremely unpopular in Pakistan, in part because they are widely reported to kill civilians as well as militants.
The Pakistani government regularly lodges diplomatic protests against the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty, and officials said the subject was raised with Richard C. Holbrooke, a newly appointed U.S. envoy to the region, who completed his first visit to the country on Thursday.
Nevertheless, most Pakistanis believe the civilian leadership has continued former President Pervez Musharraf’s policy giving the United States tacit permission to carry out the strikes.
The CIA has been working to step up its presence in Pakistan in recent years. The CIA has deployed as many as 200 people to Pakistan, one of its largest overseas operations outside of Iraq, current and former agency officials have estimated. That contingent works alongside other U.S. operatives who specialize in electronic communications and spy satellites.
Senator Feinstein is apparently trying her best to destroy that initiative.
The use of Predator planes armed with Hellfire anti-tank missiles has emerged as perhaps the important U.S. tool in its ongoing efforts to attack Al Qaeda in its sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Last month, a New Year’s Day strike killed two senior Al Qaeda operatives who were suspected of involvement in the bombing of Islamabad’s Marriott They were among at least eight senior Al Qaeda figures reportedly killed in Predator strikes over the past seven months as part of a stepped-up missile campaign that U.S. intelligence officials have characterized as major success against Al Qaeda.
Again… one of our most effective techniques in sending terrorists to their virgins… so let’s do everything in our power to destroy it.
In his prepared testimony Thursday, Blair said that Al Qaeda has “lost significant parts of its command structure since 2008 in a succession of blows as damaging to the group as any since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001.”
When will we start prosecuting those who spill America’s secrets in a time of war?