Former Obama intel chief: Suspend unilateral drone strikes
President Barack Obama’s former intelligence chief said Friday that the U.S. should stop all unilateral drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
“I was in Pakistan not long ago and I was shocked at the depth of the anit-Americanism,” CBS’ Leslie Stahl told former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair at the Aspen Security Forum. “It’s red hot and it’s focused on the drones. I was just wondering if you think some of the backlash we’re getting from it is worth it?”
“I know what I would decide if I were charge,” Blair replied. “That gets to Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the places where these jihadist groups and their franchises have holed up. I think that in those places, because we don’t own the ground, they’re somebody else’s country. The country is either unwilling or unable to cooperate with us against these groups, that we cannot do it by unilateral intelligence and special forces attack.”
“Because we are alienating the countries concerned, because we are treating the countries just as places we go attack groups that threaten us, we are threatening the prospects of long-term reform that are raised by the Arab Spring, that are raised by other things which would make these countries capable and willing allies that could, in fact, knock that threat down to a nuisance level from small-scale attacks level. So I think we have to change in those three countries in a fundamental way.”
“Stop the drone attacks?” Stahl asked.
“Do the drone attacks, intelligence work and special forces work only with the countries. Pull back on unilateral actions by the United States except in extraordinary circumstances,” Blair advised.
Watch this video from the Aspen Security Forum, broadcast July 29, 2011.
(H/T: Washington Post)