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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. 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

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 Central Intelligence Agency has made a series of secret concessions in its drone campaign after military and diplomatic officials complained large strikes were damaging the fragile U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

U.S. Tightens Drone Rules for Its Pakistan Attacks

The covert drones are credited with killing hundreds of suspected militants, and few U.S. officials have publicly criticized the campaign, or its rapid expansion under President Barack Obama. Behind the scenes, however, many key U.S. military and State Department officials demanded more-selective strikes. 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. By Gareth Porter When David Petraeus settles into his new office at the Central Intelligence Agency, he will be taking over an organization whose chief mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analyzing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia. PW Singer on military robots and the future of war. CIA shifts focus to killing targets. 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.” 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? That's one of the questions lawmakers are still struggling with some 10 years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, which, because of massive shortages in the government sector saw a boom in the private contracting industry.

The temporary hiring practice that began as a stopgap measure has ballooned into a multibillion-dollar industry where the line is often blurred between functions customarily handled by government employees and those carried out by hired contractors on behalf of the United States. 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. One issue that Defense Secretary Gates has been pressed on during his global tour, has been drones.

CIA, Military Rely Heavily On Predator Drones

Those are unmanned aircraft used to target suspected terrorists along Pakistan's border. 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.

Panetta was pulled out of a White House meeting and told that Mehsud's wife was also on the rooftop, giving her husband a massage. "Any time you make decisions on life and death, I don't take that lightly. 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. 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. CIA's Push for Drone War Driven by Internal Needs. Drone Zone: CIA elimination weapon.