“Maybe Americans are fine with drones because they’re largely happy to ignore them—most voters don’t care about foreign policy at all, even though the president has much more control over counterterrorism than he does over, say, jobs and the economy. The test of our love affair with drones will be how we react to them in our own skies.”—#DroneOn
“Obama has said that when it comes to the issue of torture during the Bush years, he prefers to “turn the page.” He’s pointed out that his Administration has banned “enhanced interrogation techniques” by executive order, but another Administration can just as easily re-authorize them. Without access to this meticulous, tragic, and available history, what’s to stop the country from repeating it? Before turning the page, the President might do well to make sure he, and the rest of us, can read it. ”— Jane Mayer on why the Obama Administration should push for the public release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s still-classfied blockbuster report on C.I.A. wrongdoing during the Bush years: http://nyr.kr/12satrW
“The government said, 'We're facing an enemy we don't understand, we don't have the tools to deal with it, here's billions ... of dollars and a blank check after that for anybody with a good idea to go and pursue it. Not only does the government find it difficult to get its arms around itself, [but now] it doesn't' know what's inside, it doesn't know what works, it doesn't know what doesn't work. And nobody still, ten years later, is really in charge of those questions.”—On today’s Fresh Air, Washington Post national security reporter Dana Priest joins Terry Gross for a discussion about how the ‘terrorism industrial complex’ created in response to the 9/11 attacks grew to be so big.
In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the agency has undergone a fundamental transformation. Although the CIA continues to gather intelligence and furnish analysis on a vast array of subjects, its focus and resources are increasingly centered on the cold counterterrorism objective of finding targets to capture or kill.
The shift has been gradual enough that its magnitude can be difficult to grasp. Drone strikes that once seemed impossibly futuristic are so routine that they rarely attract public attention unless a high-ranking al-Qaeda figure is killed.
But framed against the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 2001 attacks — as well as the arrival next week of retired Gen. David H. Petraeus as the CIA’s director — the extent of the agency’s reorientation comes into sharper view:
●The drone program has killed more than 2,000 militants and civilians since 2001, a staggering figure for an agency that has a long history of supporting proxy forces in bloody conflicts but rarely pulled the trigger on its own.
●The CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, which had 300 employees on the day of the attacks, now exceeds al-Qaeda’s core membership around the globe. With about 2,000 on its staff, the CTC accounts for 10 percent of the agency’s workforce, has designated officers in almost every significant overseas post and controls the CIA’s expanding fleet of drones.
●Even the agency’s analytic branch, which traditionally existed to provide insights to policymakers, has been enlisted in the hunt. About 20 percent of CIA analysts are now “targeters” scanning data for individuals to recruit, arrest or place in the crosshairs of a drone. The skill is in such demand that the CIA made targeting a designated career track five years ago, meaning analysts can collect raises and promotions without having to leave the targeting field.