From the Washington Post:
"CIA drone attacks in Pakistan killed at least 581 militants last year, according to independent estimates. The number of those militants noteworthy enough to appear on a U.S. list of most-wanted terrorists: two."
But these highly costly attacks (each missile launched, like its counterpart the cruise missile, costs a million dollars)are apparently not so essential after all:
Reports first started coming out on Sunday that there had been no drone attacks in northwest Pakistan since just a few days before Raymond Davis was captured in Lahore after killing two Pakistanis. Almost immediately after those reports came out, however, a new attack occurred Monday:
A U.S. drone strike killed at least seven people on Monday in a tribal region along Pakistan’s western border, local officials said, the first such attack in a month as a diplomatic feud strains U.S.-Pakistani ties.
It is the first time since January 23 that intelligence officials have reported a U.S. drone attack, marking a resumption of a campaign that has become the centerpiece of U.S. efforts to halt militants launching attacks on its soldiers in Afghanistan.
Many analysts believe Washington halted the attacks for weeks to avoid further inflaming anti-American fury in Pakistan just as it pressures Islamabad to release Raymond Davis, a U.S.consulate employee imprisoned after shooting two Pakistanis last month in what he said was an attempted robbery.
The article probes further into how the drone program evolved from targeting high-level operatives to the current claim of “foot soldiers” being targeted:
Experts who track the strikes closely said a program that began with intermittent lethal attacks on al-Qaeda leaders has evolved into a campaign that seems primarily focused on lower-level fighters. Peter Bergen, a director at the New America Foundation, said data on the strikes indicate that 94 percent of those killed are lower-level militants.
“I think it’s hard to make the case that the 94 percent cohort threaten the United States in some way,” Bergen said. “There’s been very little focus on that question from a human rights perspective. Targeted killings are about leaders – it shouldn’t be a blanket dispensation.”
Bearing witness to the “all war, all the time” attitude of the Obama administration, the government responds to the accusation:
“This effort has evolved because our intelligence has improved greatly over the years, and we’re able to identify not just senior terrorists, but also al-Qaeda foot soldiers who are planning attacks on our homeland and our troops in Afghanistan,” said a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.
“We would be remiss if we didn’t go after people who have American blood on their hands,” the official said. “To use a military analogy, if you’re only going after the generals, you’re likely to be run over by tanks.”
During this month-long hiatus in killing foot soldiers, there doesn’t seem to have been a dramatic increase in attacks on US personnel near the Pakistan border in Afghanistan, so how can the drone attacks be as vital as the government claims? In the meantime, the military contractors certainly reap rewards from the program, as each of the drone strikes (now at over 100 per year) costs the government over $1 million.
So how do we decide who is killed by this "essential defense"?
How depraved has our government become when “analysts” in Pakistan and on US bases work together to sit in judgment on “foot soldiers” arbitrarily deemed guilty from afar and then execute them without detention and trial? Now, heaped on that offense is the realization that all of this is for show, because it can be switched on and off depending on how much political “heat” is on the program.
So the US continues its contortions as the "Leader of Democracy" and enforces its high ideals by illegal wars, detentions, torture and summary execution no longer reserved for high values leaders. The victims of these attack are now chosen by a judge and jury consisting of intelligence analysts who are no doubt advised by the military contractors who profit from the drone operation in the first place.