For the first time, President Obama has officially acknowledged that the USA is waging war in Pakistan. It’s sometimes difficult to keep in mind that almost everything we know about drone strikes is based on anonymous sources. The U.S. government until now has refused to address the subject on the record. David Dayen on FDL:
It’s a sad commentary on our media that the President had to answer questions yesterday about drones for the first time, and the questions didn’t come at a White House press briefing or major print interview, but in a virtual YouTube town hall with members of the public.
“I think that we have to be judicious in how we use drones,” Obama said Monday, adding that they have been used for “very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.”
Obama went on to say that “obviously a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA,” the acronym for Pakistan’s federally administered tribal areas, and for “going after Al Qaeda suspects who are in very tough terrain along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
“This thing is kept on a very tight leash,” Obama said. The U.S. does not use drones “willy-nilly” but in a way that avoids more intrusive military actions.
He described the attacks as carefully targeted. But drone attacks known as “signature strikes” — which are not aimed at specific individuals but against vehicles, camps or houses believed to be used by militants — have expanded dramatically during his presidency.
Now that our government has admitted waging war in Pakistan, the next step is to ask how these attacks, and the hundreds of civilian casualties, can be justified. Maybe the Washington press corps will start asking some questions now that this is out in the open.