Predators: The CIA's Drone War on al Qaeda

Predators: The CIA's Drone War on al Qaeda

Brian Glyn Williams

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1612346170

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Predators: The CIA's Drone War on al Qaeda

Brian Glyn Williams

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 1612346170

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Predators is a riveting introduction to the murky world of Predator and Reaper drones, the CIA’s and U.S. military’s most effective and controversial killing tools. Brian Glyn Williams combines policy analysis with the human drama of the spies, terrorists, insurgents, and innocent tribal peoples who have been killed in the covert operation—the CIA’s largest assassination campaign since the Vietnam War era—being waged in Pakistan’s tribal regions via remote control aircraft known as drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles. Having traveled extensively in the Pashtun tribal areas while working for the U.S. military and the CIA, Williams explores in detail the new technology of airborne assassinations. From miniature Scorpion missiles designed to kill terrorists while avoiding civilian “collateral damage” to prathrais, the cigarette lighter–size homing beacons spies plant on their unsuspecting targets to direct drone missiles to them, the author describes the drone arsenal in full. Evaluating the ethics of targeted killings and drone technology, Williams covers more than a hundred drone strikes, analyzing the number of slain civilians versus the number of terrorists killed to address the claims of antidrone activists. In examining the future of drone warfare, he reveals that the U.S. military is already building more unmanned than manned aerial vehicles. Predators helps us weigh the pros and cons of the drone program so that we can decide whether it is a vital strategic asset, a “frenemy,” or a little of both.

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brigades, and reducing the size of the active army from 570,000 to 490,000 troops), the Pentagon is set to increase its drone combat air patrols from sixty-one to eighty-five. It has called for a 30 percent increase in the drone fleet in coming years.10 This represents a shift from big bloody wars, like the invasion of Iraq, which cost more than $1 trillion and forty-five hundred American lives, to the aerial campaign in Libya, which cost just more than $1 billion and no U.S. lives. In addition

foretaste of the reaction to the Americans’ more systematic campaign of drone assassinations in Pakistan’s remote tribal zones. Although the CIA’s operations to kill Harethi had had the tacit approval of the Yemeni government, the actual drone strike had been carried out unilaterally. Some members of the Yemeni government expressed unease with the way the CIA had acted on their soil and the opposition parties howled in protest about the violation of Yemen’s sovereignty. The Economist presciently

to strike within Pakistan’s border regions—providing the Americans have actionable intelligence and especially if the Pakistanis won’t or can’t take firm action. Pakistan’s caveat is that it would formally protest such strikes to deflect domestic criticism.67 To support U.S. operations, the Pakistanis joined with the CIA to create a network of local spies and informants who were actively involved in hunting for al Qaeda HVTs. One Pakistani security officer told Time magazine that the CIA had

every indication that this was a group of terrorists, not a charity car wash in the Pakistani hinterlands.”22 Pakistan ignored the Americans’ remarks and subsequently showed its displeasure by pulling out of tripartite talks between the U.S., Afghan, and Pakistan governments on the future of Afghanistan. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry issued the following statement: “It is evident that the fundamentals of our relations need to be revisited. Pakistan should not be taken for granted nor treated as

avoided. He also called on the United States to explain the legal basis for its unprecedented drone campaign and to outline how it complied with humanitarian law. If the United States did not do so, Alston warned, it would “increasingly be perceived as carrying out indiscriminate killings in violation of international law.” He also said, “The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial

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