Washington: The Obama administration is
increasingly relying on deadly drones to carry out targeted
killings of suspected terrorists and stealth surveillance of
other adversaries across the globe, a media report said on Wednesday.
The administration, in fact, is using a wide variety of
these unmanned aerial vehicles to meet its national security
interest and successfully strike back at terrorists hiding
away from it, The Washington Post reported.
"The number of drone aircraft has exploded in the past
three years," the daily said, adding that a recent study by
the Congressional Budget Office counted 775 Predators, Reapers
and other medium- and long-range drones in the US inventory,
with hundreds more in the pipeline.
About 30 of those aircraft have been allocated to the
CIA, the paper quoted officials as saying.
It said the CIA has a separate category that doesn't show
up in any public accounting, a fleet of stealth drones that
were developed and acquired under a highly compartmentalised
programme of the agency created after the 9/11 attacks.
The RQ-170 model that recently crashed in Iran exposed
the agency's use of stealth drones to spy on that country's
nuclear programme, but the planes have also been used in other
countries, it said.
"The rapid expansion of the drone programme has blurred
long-standing boundaries between the CIA and the military.
Lethal operations are increasingly assembled a la carte,
piecing together personnel and equipment in ways that allow
the White House to toggle between separate legal authorities
that govern the use of lethal force," The Post said.
With a year to go in President Barack Obama's first term,
his administration can point to undeniable results: Osama bin
Laden is dead, the core al Qaeda network is near defeat, and
members of its regional affiliates scan the sky for metallic
glints, the paper said.
In fact, the drones are not only restricted to Pakistan;
where it was mostly being used before the advent of the Obama
Administration. It is now being used widely in places like
Africa and in the Middle East.
A recent media report had said that the US is now also
planning to sell these successful lethal weapons to its key
allies. However, there is some resistance from the
First Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 14:09