The New York Times has posted an excerpt on-line from “The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth,” to be published by Penguin Press on Tuesday.
The story starts out telling us the story of Net Muhammad, a Pashtun rebel hiding in the South Waziristan province of Pakistan. His death in June 2004, along with several others, including two boys, ages 10 and 16 was the opening salvo in what has become the newest secret war.
Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of the Taliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.
That back-room bargain, described in detail for the first time in interviews with more than a dozen officials in Pakistan and the United States, is critical to understanding the origins of a covert drone war that began under the Bush administration, was embraced and expanded by President Obama, and is now the subject of fierce debate. The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization.
The C.I.A. has since conducted hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed thousands of people, Pakistanis and Arabs, militants and civilians alike. While it was not the first country where the United States used drones, it became the laboratory for the targeted killing operations that have come to define a new American way of fighting, blurring the line between soldiers and spies and short-circuiting the normal mechanisms by which the United States as a nation goes to war.
Emphases in the quotes are mine.
Do take the time to read the entire story.
All photos via Michael Chickey.
More pictures from this weekend’s demonstrations here
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
I saw NYT reporter Mazetti on CBS with Bob Schieffer this morning. I was struck by Mazetti’s description of newly-blurred lines of responsibility between the Pentagon and the CIA. He said CIA people are themselves running drones, not trained military pilots, as formerly. Bush started it and Obama embraced and expanded the practice. He also said numerous other countries including Israel, Iran and China have them or are close.
I read somewhere that enterprising realtors in LA had used unweaponized drones, but desisted after somebody complained. We have also deployed surveillance drones along the 700-mile fence that separates us from Mexico.