The Most Under-Reported News of the Day: Pakistan Drone Strikes Could End

On Friday, this came down:

The United States and Pakistan agreed Thursday to restart high-level talks on security and other issues, yet the two sides still deeply mistrust each other in a relationship frayed by disputes over issues like U.S. drone attacks, which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said could end soon.

Kerry’s remarks to Pakistan TV about a possible end to the CIA-led program of drone strikes was the first time an administration official has said the Obama administration wants to end the program. Kerry offered no timetable, and spokeswomen assured reporters he was merely reflecting President Barack Obama’s statements in a speech earlier this year. [...]

Pakistani officials have been angry about U.S. drone strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan, claiming they violate their sovereignty. They used Kerry’s visit to press the U.S. to stop the drone attacks.

“I think the program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it,” Kerry told the Pakistan TV interviewer. “I think the president has a very real timeline and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon. I think it depends really on a number of factors, and we’re working with your government with respect to that.”

This of course is positive news, which will hopefully be followed up at some point with the president’s pledge to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.

By the way, via Ashby, the use of drones in Pakistan has been winding down. In Yemen, they’re on pace for lower numbers this year as well.

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  • CygnusX1isaHole

    Sloppy reporting. First of all, the article you link to at HuffPo is from Thursday, not Friday.

    As was reported yesterday (Friday) the administration was already walking back Kerry’s comments:

    No, says State Dept., Drone Attacks in Pakistan Will Not Be Ending ‘Very, Very Soon’

    Following comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday, in which he said U.S. drone operations in Pakistan will end “very, very soon,” the State Department immediately backtracked saying there is no time-line for such a plan.

    Speaking at a press briefing following Kerry’s comments made during a trip to Pakistan, Marie Harf—State Department Deputy Spokesperson—responded to questions over Kerry’s comments by saying “there is no exact timeline to provide,” and “Obviously, a lot of this is driven by the situation on the ground.”

    Pushing the issue further, one reporter posed: “Well, he [Kerry] says he hopes it’ll be very, very soon. Is there any reason to think that it will be very, very soon? Are you talking about ending it very, very soon?”

    Harf responded without clarifying any foreseeable end point, insinuating that the drone program will continue until the U.S. believes it has defeated al-Qaida in the region.

    Unedited:
    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/02-5

    • muselet

      A diplomat gave a diplomatic response to a Pakistani television reporter in the runup to negotiations over US policy in Pakistan. Gasp shock horror! Well, that proves the US is an eviler empire than any evil empire ever!

      Grow up.

      –alopecia

      • CygnusX1isaHole

        John Kerry:

        “…I think the president has a very real timeline and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.”

        Here’s the response from Marie Harf—State Department Deputy Spokesperson:

        “…the Secretary was making the point that we have made, as we’ve talked about, significant progress against core al-Qaida in this region, and that we will continue to do so – that they are a shadow of what they once were, and I think he was reinforcing that point. But again, no timeline to provide right now.”

        This is not a diplomatic response. It’s a complete refutation of what John Kerry said.

        It’s past time for you to grow up from your childish partisan worship. It’s distorting your reality.

        • blackdaug

          “.I think the president has a very real timeline and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.”
          “But again, no timeline to provide right now.”

          The President has a timeline, Kerry hopes it is soon, but they are not going to provide a definite timeline right now.

          Speaking of childish……are you able to read?

        • muselet

          Reading comprehension fail.

          John Kerry was asked a question by a Pakistani television reporter. He gave a diplomatic answer, or—if you want to be indelicate—he dodged the question.

          PROTIP: When a diplomat says s/he “hopes” something will happen, s/he is not stating official US policy. A spokesperson for the State Department will, however, state official US policy, because that’s in the job description.

          See the difference?

          And “childish partisan worship”? Really? That’s the best you can do?

          How terribly disappointing.

          –alopecia

    • BlueTrooth

      Common Dreams? They held on to that phony Pressure Cooker story after the details were clear that an ex-boss called his local police for some “undisclosed” reason. I’ve checked them off the list of even slightly credible resources.

      • CygnusX1isaHole

        Do you have poor vision? The update to the original Commondreams article is right here:

        http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/01-7

        • CygnusX1isaHole

          Where’s the correction from Bob Cesca for getting the date of the original HuffPo story wrong? Where’s the update reporting that Marie Harf—State Department Deputy Spokesperson, walked back the entirety of John Kerry’s statement (before Bob Cesca even wrote this post)?

          I’ve checked Bob Cesca off the list of even marginally credible sources.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

    So a government press release in Pakistan is automatically credible, but a non-random guy who has taken great personal risk to reveal what the NSA can do – and who has documents to prove it – is not. If that doesn’t show you to be a Democratic apologist, I don’t know what would.

    • muselet

      POP QUIZ

      WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE?

      You keep coming here to piss and moan about how Bob is an apologist for the dastardly Democrats and their worse-than-Bush-times-infinity leader, Barack Obama.

      ANSWER: “YOU KEEP COMING HERE”

      I have no idea why you think leaving an endless trail of comments across the interwebs—all with the theme of telling everyone they’re idiots for not thinking exactly the same way you do—is going to change minds or make the world a better place.

      You’ve made your point and your opinion has been duly noted by the community. You’ve done all you can here. In the immortal words of Cordelia Chase, “Don’t you have an elsewhere to be?”

      –alopecia

      • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

        “the theme of telling everyone they’re idiots for not thinking exactly the same way you do” That perfectly describes the commentariat at this site. Thanks! Rather, I make what are called “arguments” that could be engaged with. For instance, you could show how my statement above is wrong. Maybe Bob doesn’t believe everything Kerry says to a foreign audience. Maybe Bob believes Snowden is credible on some points. Go for it.

        The weird thing is some commenters here believe websites like this are for groupthink and tribal bonding. Fine. But either ignore me or engage me. “Love it or leave it” is such a stupid thing to say.

        For the record, the only way Obama is worse than Bush is that he has cemented radical foreign policy and security state practices and policies for the foreseeable future. In all other ways, he is better than Bush.

        • muselet

          Unless Disqus mangled your original comment on this thread, you made no argument to engage with. You made a silly attempt to insult the proprietor of the site.

          If you actually have an argument to make, make it. If you’re going to waste everyone’s time with pointless jabs, give it up.

          –alopecia

        • Badgerite

          He did no such thing. In fact the only thing, last election, that stood between the triumphant return of John Bolton and other well known, true neo cons to the high chambers of government was Barack Obama and the Democratic party. Glen Greenwald probably would have been fine with that because then he would have someone juicy to ineffectually rail against and have people praise him for it.
          And, again, the information about these surveillance programs have been reported and books have been written about the history of their evolution. Snowden is really not telling the country anything that wasn’t already previously reported truthfully and in a non hysterical manner. Please go read Shane Harris’s book , The Watcher, the Rise of the Surveillance State. It is excellent, In depth. Can be gotten at Amazon or the library. What is going on at the NSA is not so much about surveillance as it is a new way of analyzing the data. Some of it public. Some of it private. I haven’t gotten that far yet but I will bet that some of their hunch work ended up in Bush’s Presidential briefing on August 8,2001. Before using this system, the top dogs at the intelligence agencies viewed Al Qaeda as a small organization without much reach beyond their own enclaves in Afghanistan. This program found their footprints in Europe, especially Germany, Southeastern Asia, North Africa and some areas of the United States, specifically Florida. The difference we are talking about, then, is between inaccurate and accurate intelligence. That is nothing to sneeze at.
          What Obama was doing, then, in calling for the March 2009 review of the NSA surveillance programs, ( which was reported in the New York Times in April of 2009 by Lichtbau and Resin) and bringing them into compliance as much as possible with the 4th Amendment, was try to maintain a valuable system and method of data analysis that had the potential of providing far more accurate intelligence assessments in the future. I don’t consider that a bad thing.

          • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

            Yes, things would have been worse under McCain.

            “maintain a valuable system” there is zero evidence that the extreme bulk surveillance we’ve just learned about through Snowdens leaks are valuable.

            “it is impossible to fight a war without hurting people.” You can not fight the war. Dennis Blair, former Obama security official (either DNI or NSAdvisor) has said drone strikes are counter productive. Meaning we would be better off without them. AQAP has only grown bigger since droning Yemen has started. It doesn’t work.

          • Badgerite

            I’m sorry, did you totally miss the part about the analysts using this system predicting the existence of an Al Qaeda network taking root in America pre 9/11? Clearly, Cheney, with his own unique ideas about intelligence analysis that came into high relief in his Office of Special Plans, did not believe their assessments, or as he said, ‘did not take the warnings seriously’. The reason the people who developed this method of analysis were called in an given a green light to proceed with their program when prior to 9/11 they had been ordered by lawyers at the Department of Defense to delete all their files or face going to jail due to encroachment on the privacy rights of American citizens, is that they had BEEN RIGHT. This system of analysis was NOT instituted without evidence that it worked. It is precisely WHY the NSA was given the green light. Because they had been so accurate in their prediction.
            As to the bulk collection, quoting from Shane Harris’s book:
            “Each target created more noise. In a desperate attempt to simplify the analysis, the team constructed rudimentary charts…..
            A line between two people looked so convincing. But what did that line really mean? What relationship lay underneath it?
            ‘Do you have any idea how many people on the planet would go to jail just because they knew somebody bad,’ one woman asked the group.
            It wasn’t just a good question. It was THE question. ….They had to know for sure, that the targets actually mattered to Al Qaeda, or were Al Qaeda. …..
            They knew that intelligence reports from the classified systems often came with an especially useful lead – telephone surveillance logs of suspected foreign targets. Connections through phone numbers offered a more concrete basis of suspicion than much of what the team had pulled in so far. ….
            One of the analysts meticulously combed through the phone logs. She’d pick a target, then pull out all the numbers that he had called.—-
            Now the analysis tools became useful again. —
            The team ran the phone number spreadsheet through a visualization program, called Parentage, which created link charts based on phone and internet logs. ”

            Use your common sense. Of course this is a valuable tool. It can find links between people that would not be readily apparent to an analyst. It is a systematic approach

            As to the use of drones, that is their call. But I am willing to leave the assessment of their usefulness to the people actually fighting Al Qaeda. That is after all, what they are doing. This is not a aerial bombardment campaign such as those run by the Bush administration pre Iraq invasion, etc. And what do you mean, ‘You cannot fight the war’. Al Qaeda just recently attacked our embassy and killed the ambassador in Libya, a country that the US had some role in helping to liberate from Qaddafi. Your choice is fight them, or let them have their way. There is no middle ground here. You can argue about effectiveness of methods. But to say you cannot fight them is to say they can do what they want in any country they want.

        • blackdaug

          “The weird thing is some commenters here believe websites like this are for groupthink and tribal bonding. Fine. But either ignore me or engage me. “Love it or leave it” is such a stupid thing to say.”

          Do you have the slightest idea of what a paranoid crank you constantly come across as being?
          People here don’t bother to respond to your posts because they want this to be some temple of “group think” where outsiders are not allowed to “enlighten” us.
          They do it because you essentially post the same two things over and over again………
          A long discredited or misunderstood mish-mash of talking points with links to stories that usually disprove your own point…or
          A paragraph attacking everyone here and the owner of the blog for being clueless partisan stooges
          What an empty life it must be, to derive pleasure from insipid, constant trolling.
          Just go away or shut up. Grownups are trying to talk.

          • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

            Your grown up self called me fat and old. (1 for 2) while never once engaging in an argument.

          • blackdaug

            So you are also fat Pierre?
            Thanks for the tip.
            As for being old…I have no idea, but you are sure getting old around
            here….

  • blackdaug

    “Pushing the issue further, one reporter posed: “Well, he [Kerry] says he hopes it’ll be very, very soon. Is there any reason to think that it will be very, very soon? Are you talking about ending it very, very soon?”

    They are in the middle of negotiating what presence U.S. troops will maintain, after the scheduled withdrawal in 2014. Drone strikes will likely wind down as the troop presence does, unless the “situation” on the ground (Al qaeda leadership popping up in Pakistan or Afghanistan) dictates otherwise. Kerry hopes for a sooner withdrawl…with corresponding fewer drone strikes.
    Does that clear it up for you trolls? Or would you rather remain intentionally obtuse?

    • mrbrink

      When reached for comment about the future of armed drones in the region, the Republican party released a statement from the bunker of Hell directly into the soul of America, and to the Lamestream media, and I quote: “fuck yeah! can you believe we get to bomb these motherfuckers at like, a nickel a drop?! Fuck yeah! woo-hooo, motherfuckers, woo-fucking-hoo! suck it, bitches… suck it!!!”

      When asked to clarify what they meant by, “fuck yeah! can you believe we get to bomb these motherfuckers at like, a nickel a drop? Fuck yeah! woo-hooo, motherfuckers, woo-fucking-hoo! suck it, bitches… suck it!!!”

      Congressional Republicans said, “suck it.”

  • BlueTrooth

    The message is clear that the drone program is under review with a potential for termination. In layman’s terms, Kerry was saying its being considered. That is better than a statement saying drones are a permanent fixture. I put a check in the plus column, but don’t expect the drones to be grounded in the next 6 months.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

    “which will hopefully be followed up at some point with the president’s
    pledge to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.” Won’t happen. One of the ways Obama is better than Bush is that he bases his use of force (i.e. drone strikes) on the AUMF-AT (2001) rather than on inherent Article II power and self-defense rationales. It is one thing for drone strikes to wind down for a period of time and another for the President to call for the removal of his authorization to use drones or any other kinetic force against al-Qaeda and associated forces (anyone with a long beard doing jumping jacks). A more realistic goal would be to pressure the President to call for repeal of the AUMF-Iraq (2002).

    Oh, and Pakistan is making more and more fuss about the drone strikes there. Don’t chalk it up to Obama’s magnanimous.

    There. Is that nice enough?

    • Badgerite

      The President HAS called for the repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force. He did this on May 23, 2013 in his remark at the National Defense University. The President cannot pledge to repeal this. This has to be done by Congress. The Republican Congress. The best he can do is call for its repeal and pledge to sign such legislation, which he has done. But then, of course, Greenwald and Snowden sucked all the air out of the room occupied by a Republican Congress that doesn’t want to do anything he says anyway. So I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. Rand Paul doesn’t like drones, unless he can use them on Mexicans, then he is fine with it.

      • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

        So you still believe in Obama’s speeches. How nice. What actions has he taken? You know, like when he sent Rahm to the Progressive caucus and called them retarded and that freshmen reps will never hear from the White House again. Or when he sent James Clapper to two two-hour closed door caucus meetings so that the Amash-Conyers amendment failed. Stuff like that.

        • Badgerite

          Well, you said in your post with respect to President Obama’s ‘pledge to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, (and I quote)
          “Won’t happen”. It did happen. He pledged exactly that in his speech and then you decided to move the goal post as in implying that he hasn’t done anything to pressure Congress to repeal said legislation.
          Yeah. That’s the reason. Because, as anyone can see, once Congress gets done trying to repeal Obamacare for the umpteenth time, they will absolutely do just as he has asked and take up repeal of this legislation. What do you suggest he do? Kidnap their children?

          • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

            Ok. You got me on the pledge. But are you really impressed that Obama said it?

          • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

            I must point out that Bob was wrong about the pledge as well.

      • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

        “So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.” Well, what engagement has he

        • Badgerite

          As said, after attempting for the umpteenth time to repeal Obamacare (short of denying Obama a second term, their biggest priority to date), they promptly went on recess. I guess they wore themselves out passing no legislation at all this term. Not even immigration reform. I guess that would be Obama’s fault also.

          • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

            You can’t reply to a ? About Obama and say what the House has done. Since Obamas speech in May, what engagement has Obama made with Congress or the public?

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Mark Erickson

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/us/politics/drone-war-rages-on-even-as-administration-talks-about-ending-it.html This title, published Friday night, couldn’t be more perfect.

    Despite Administration Promises, Few Signs of Change in Drone Wars