CIA Chief David Petraeus wants to expand his drone fleet by about one third, according to the Washington Post. We learn from the Post that the CIA now has a fleet of about 30 to 35 drones capable of use in attacks and Petraeus would like to increase that number by about ten.
An expansion of this offensive capability gets at the heart of what the role of the CIA should be:
The CIA is urging the White House to approve a significant expansion of the agency’s fleet of armed drones, a move that would extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force, U.S. officials said.
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.
Paramilitary activity seems to be quite a stretch for an agency whose name describes its role as intelligence rather than fighting.
With a former Pentagon darling now running the CIA, we see that the CIA now may be seen as more friendly territory by DoD:
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.
It would appear that this time, as usual, Petreaus has found the proper location for applying more of his charms and has aligned the political forces to favor his objectives.
And speaking of Petraeus’ actions in the political realm, the timing of his speaking up for more drones is very “convenient” for him, because the issue of the CIA, what it knew, when it knew it and, most importantly, when it shared what it knew, seems to be at the heart of the political shitstorm brewing over the September 11 Benghazi incident. Read more