With U.S. involvement in Afghanistan after this year still unclear, the administration is looking for other ways to launch drones into Pakistan, officials said.
Officials told the Los Angeles Times that the administration is looking at other bases in Central Asia, but noted that moving out of Afghanistan will hinder the CIA’s ability to launch timely strikes in Pakistan’s mountainous border region.
“There is an enormous amount of human intelligence collected that supports the strikes, and those bases are a key part of it,” one official said.
The United States has yet to get a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan, and without it all U.S. forces will pull out of the country by the end of the year. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the pact could be signed after the country’s elections this spring.
Military planes currently accompany the CIA’s drones in Afghanistan, and officials said if the U.S. bases in Afghanistan close they could move the drones to northern countries, but didn’t specific which.
It’s not the first time officials have acknowledged contingency planning in its ability to launch drone strikes against terrorist organizations in Pakistan.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said earlier this month that he didn’t want to “get into the specifics of what our plans are on intelligence and drone strikes,” noting that “you’re constantly updating and changing … where you posture those assets, where the threats are most significant, where do you have allies that are willing to work with you.”
But the administration has scaled back its use of drones in recent years. Pakistan was the target of 28 drones strikes in 2013, down from a high of 117 in 2010.
What We're Following See More »
The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.
"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."
No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."
Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.