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CIA often doesn’t know who it kills with drones. Further affirming skepticism in the human rights community that “targeted killing” is a poor description of the CIA’s drone program, a new NBC investigation found that the agency regularly did not know who it was killing with the strikes.

CIA often doesn’t know who it kills with drones

As Richard Engel and Robert Windrem reported, having reviewed months of classified documents: About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as “other militants,” the documents detail. CIA seeks to expand drone fleet, officials say. If approved, the CIA could add as many as 10 drones, the officials said, to an inventory that has ranged between 30 and 35 over the past few years.

CIA seeks to expand drone fleet, officials say

The outcome has broad implications for counterterrorism policy and whether the CIA gradually returns to being an organization focused mainly on gathering intelligence, or remains a central player in the targeted killing of terrorism suspects abroad. In the past, officials from the Pentagon and other departments have raised concerns about the CIA’s expanding arsenal and involvement in lethal operations, but a senior Defense official said that the Pentagon had not opposed the agency’s current plan.

Officials from the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon declined to comment on the proposal. How the Gov’t Talks About a Drone Program it Won’t Acknowledge Exists. The Obama administration still doesn’t officially acknowledge the CIA’s drone program, a stance that helps shield it from discussing the program’s most controversial elements.

How the Gov’t Talks About a Drone Program it Won’t Acknowledge Exists

An armed MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft sits in a shelter Oct. 15 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, before a mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Stacking Up the Adminstration's Drone Claims. Administration officials—often unnamed—frequently seem to celebrate drone strikes that kill suspected militants.

Stacking Up the Adminstration's Drone Claims

But the administration has also worked against disclosures of less positive aspects of the CIA's program, including how many civilians have been killed. We’ve laid out four years of statements by current and former officials discussing the CIA's drone program, both on and off the record. (Most of these stories also include a “no comment” from the CIA or the White House.) U.S. Tightens Drone Rules for Its Pakistan Attacks. The Drone Warriors - January 2010 Issue. Petraeus’s New ‘Killing Machine’ The CIA is now “one hell of a killing machine,” said one CIA insider, as lethal drones hunt down “bad guys” selected for death by a ramped-up force of CIA target analysts.

Petraeus’s New ‘Killing Machine’

This shift in emphasis has transformed the spy agency that new director, retired Gen. David Petraeus, inherits, writes Gareth Porter. PW Singer on military robots and the future of war. CIA shifts focus to killing targets. In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the agency has undergone a fundamental transformation.

CIA shifts focus to killing targets

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. Hoosier Robot Killers. Afghanistan Pakistan Private Military Contractors. But this is no schoolboy experiment, and the small flying cylinder is no model airplane.

Hoosier Robot Killers. Afghanistan Pakistan Private Military Contractors

It is the Voyeur UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a “drone.” According to the website of its manufacturer, West Lafayette-based Lite Machines, Inc., the Voyeur is designed to allow military and law enforcement to conduct surveillance and “human or non-human target acquisition.” The Voyeur can travel as far as 50 miles in the air and can hover over and/or touch its target. Lite Machines is based in the Purdue Research Park, which promotes the fact that the company has received a $10.5 million contract from the U.S. Contract to Spy: Is the U.S. Government using contractors the way you think they are? By CNN Sr.

Contract to Spy: Is the U.S. Government using contractors the way you think they are?

National Security Producer Suzanne Kelly Let's say there is an American overseas, loading Hellfire missiles onto drones that are targeting and killing terrorists. Would it matter to you whether that person is a private contractor and not a U.S. service member? The risks of the C.I.A.’s Predator drones. On August 5th, officials at the Central Intelligence Agency, in Langley, Virginia, watched a live video feed relaying closeup footage of one of the most wanted terrorists in Pakistan.

The risks of the C.I.A.’s Predator drones

Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, could be seen reclining on the rooftop of his father-in-law’s house, in Zanghara, a hamlet in South Waziristan. It was a hot summer night, and he was joined outside by his wife and his uncle, a medic; at one point, the remarkably crisp images showed that Mehsud, who suffered from diabetes and a kidney ailment, was receiving an intravenous drip. CIA, Military Rely Heavily On Predator Drones.

War on terror: Drone strikes vs. capture. If every dark cloud has a silver lining, then perhaps the converse is true when it comes to human endeavors, especially in a time of war.

War on terror: Drone strikes vs. capture

Take the case of using unmanned aerial vehicles -- so-called drones -- in decimating the leadership and lower-echelon ranks of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and in the lawless tribal areas of neighboring Pakistan, where they maintain headquarters, training and supply areas. It's estimated the United States has conducted at least 50 airstrikes using drones this year. Among the dead: Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, al-Qaida's second in command in Southwest Asia, who was killed in Pakistan in August. Under Panetta, a more aggressive CIA. The plan was a standard one in the CIA's war against extremists in Pakistan: The agency was using a Predator drone to monitor a residential compound; a Taliban leader was expected to arrive shortly; a CIA missile would kill him. On the morning of Aug. 5, CIA Director Leon Panetta was informed that Baitullah Mehsud was about to reach his father-in-law's home. Mehsud would be in the open, minimizing the risk that civilians would be injured or killed. Panetta authorized the strike, according to a senior intelligence official who described the sequence of events.

Some hours later, officials at CIA headquarters in Langley identified Mehsud on a feed from the Predator's camera. He was seen resting on the roof of the house, hooked up to a drip to palliate a kidney problem. C.I.A. Said to Use Outsiders to Put Bombs on Drones. CIA cancels Blackwater drone missile-loading contract. The CIA has cancelled a contract with US private security firm Blackwater for its operatives to load bombs onto drone aircraft in Pakistan and Afghanistan. CIA Director Leon Panetta wanted such work to be done by the organisation's own employees only, officials said. The New York Times revealed the existence of the secret contract with Blackwater, renamed Xe, in August. On Thursday, the paper also reported that Xe employees had been involved in "snatch-and-grab operations" in Iraq. This Is How the CIA Kills Terrorists Using Predators. Ex-CIA chief acknowledges open secret — drones. By Agence France-PresseFriday, October 7, 2011 16:01 EDT US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Friday acknowledged what has long been an open secret — that the CIA deploys armed Predator drones to hunt down Islamist militants.

The US government officially declines to admit to the spy agency’s drone strikes, but Panetta — who served as Central Intelligence Agency director until taking over the Pentagon in July — made two casual references to the CIA’s use of robotic aircraft during a visit to US bases in Italy. “Having moved from the CIA to the Pentagon, obviously I have a hell of a lot more weapons available to me in this job than I did at CIA — although Predators aren’t bad,” Panetta told an audience of sailors at the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet headquarters in Naples. Allegations That CIA Predator Drones Have Bases in Pakistan. Unmanned CIA aircraft that fly over Pakistan and have enflamed much of the Pakistani population take off and land from at least two heavily guarded airbases inside Pakistan, two Pakistani officials told ABC News.

Such flights have drawn repeated government complaints that they violate Pakistani sovereignty. But the United States has told Pakistan the drones using Pakistani bases are surveillance drones, according to Pakistani intelligence and diplomatic officials, and not the Predator drones that launch missiles into the tribal areas in a campaign targeting al Qaeda leaders. CIA's Push for Drone War Driven by Internal Needs. WASHINGTON, Sep 5, 2011 (IPS) - When David Petraeus walks into the Central Intelligence Agency Tuesday, he will be taking over an organisation whose mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analysing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia. But the transformation of the CIA did not simply follow the expansion of the drone war in Pakistan to its present level.

CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment. The reason Hayden pushed for a much bigger drone war, it now appears, is that it had already created a whole bureaucracy in the anticipation of such a war. During 2010, the CIA "drone war" in Pakistan killed as many as 1,000 people a year, compared with the roughly 2,000 a year officially estimated to have been killed by the SOF "night raids" in Afghanistan, according to a report in the Sep. 1 Washington Post. Drone Zone: CIA elimination weapon.