PressTV - Former top US general slams terror drone bid as counterproductive
A former top US military official has blasted the Obama administration’s secret targeted killing bid as a blowback to counter terrorism effort, amid reports of US plans to shift responsibility for assassination drone hits from CIA to the Pentagon.
We’re seeing that blowback. If you’re trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you’re going to upset people even if they’re not targeted.”
Ex-Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright
“We’re seeing that blowback,” said former Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright in a Thursday speech in Chicago. “If you’re trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you’re going to upset people even if they’re not targeted.”
Speaking at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Gen. Cartwright further expressed doubts concerning a reported plan by the Obama administration to transfer some terror drone operations from the CIA spy agency to the American military, explaining that he worried about a “blurring of the line” between soldiers and spies if the Pentagon was tasked with the targeted killing bids in sovereign countries “outside a declared area of hostility,” The New York Times reports on Friday.
He further underlined that if there were problems with the assassination drone program, shifting it from one government agency to another would not essentially resolve the problem.
The development comes as recent news reports have cited US government officials as claiming that the administration plans to transfer its targeted killing operations from the CIA to the Pentagon in a supposed bid to make the terror effort ‘more transparent.’
This is while close observers of the assassination drone program have challenged the widely repeated claim that shifting the entire operation to the Defense Department would make it more open, “particularly if it is to be operated by the Joint Special Command (JSOC), among the least transparent elements of the military,” the report adds.
“We know JSOC is far more secretive than the CIA, and that the Congressional oversight is weaker,” said Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at Columbia Law School, as quoted in the report.
She further emphasized that while units operating under the JSOC were allegedly involved in gross abuse of Iraqi prisoners captured by US-led forces there, “it never had to face public scrutiny about it in the way the CIA did.”
Shah also expressed concerns that the Obama administration’s reported scheme to remove the CIA from the assassination drone operations amounts to “an effort to deflect criticism of the drone program without directly answering that criticism.”
Meanwhile, another report by the US-based NPR radio station further cites administration officials as saying that “they’ve killed most of the really bad guys they’ve been after,” adding that “they lately have been going after second- or third-tier al-Qaeda operatives.”
The report further emphasized that the reported change from CIA to Pentagon will occur gradually as “a phased approach” in specific countries.