Gareth Porter has an interesting article detailing the CIA’s own misgivings about the drone program in Pakistan. He reports [emphasis mine]:
“Some of the CIA operators are concerned that, because of its blowback effect, it is doing more harm than good,” said Jeffrey Addicott, former legal adviser to U.S. Special Forces and director of the Centre for Terrorism Law at St Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, in an interview with IPS. [...]
Because the drone strikes kill innocent civilians and bystanders along with leaders from far away, they “infuriate the Muslim male”, said Addicott, thus making them more willing to join the movement. The men in Pakistan’s tribal region “view Americans as cowards and weasels”, he added. [...]
The complaints by CIA operatives about the drone strikes’ blowback effect reported by Addicott are identical to warnings by military and intelligence officials reported in April 2009 by Jonathan Landay of McClatchy newspapers. Landay quoted an intelligence official with deep involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan as saying al Qaeda and the Taliban had used the strikes in propaganda to “portray Americans as cowards who are afraid to face their enemies and risk death“.
It’s easy to see this as only the ten thousandth reason why the drone strikes are a terrible idea, but the CIA’s complaints here could actually hint at something even more dangerous. The Taliban and Al-Qa’eda recruit heavily from propaganda about American cowardice, that’s the blowback. The CIA is not questioning fundamental assumptions about the War on Terror, like whether or not extra-judicial executions of suspected criminals is actually a real solution, rather than an escalation of senseless political violence. No, let’s be very clear about what the CIA complaint is: we’re far away, and that’s bad. There’s more: Continue Reading