Fodder for Digby and Susie: “Covert?”

What gets talked about on Sundays is up the panelists. I post ideas here, things that would interest me to hear about.

You can too! Just put up any suggestions in the comment thread.

Early this morning, reading yesterday’s dead tree NYT edition, an article about US/Afghan policy included this paragraph:

The drone strikes in Pakistan have already risen significantly over the past year. The Central Intelligence Agency carried out roughly 53 Predator attacks in 2009, which was more than President George W. Bush authorized during his entire presidency. The figure has more than doubled this year, though presidential aides will not publicly discuss the program because it is technically secret.

Even earlier, I’d received a tweet from Juan Cole  (Like all VS Tweeps, @jricole is on the @JayAckroyd/virtuallyspeaking lists) linking to a post about the CIA station chief in Pakistan fleeing the country because of a civil lawsuit. Juan points out:

The episode demonstrates the miseries of postmodern warfare, wherein President Obama is treating Pakistan the way Henry Kissinger treated Cambodia. If the US is going to conduct military operations in a country, it should be in the terms of a Status of Forces Agreement, and should be carried out by the Department of Defense. To have the CIA just lob missiles onto civilian villages in another country is wrong for all kinds of reasons. CIA operations are covert and US officials cannot even talk about them in public. There therefore can be no public debate or scrutiny of the policy. And, the whole operation breaks US law, since it is essentially a mass assassination campaign, not a war.

Funny. When I thought of “covert” I thought of Impossible Mission force operating completely undercover. Nowadays the US openly engages in illegal activity, which, of course, is what spying is. There is no question who is responsible for the drones; there is no doubt in any Pakistani’s mind. And even to the NY Times, the operations are only “technically” secret–in that US government officials will not tell reporters, including American reporters, that what everybody knows to be true, is in fact true.

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