Panetta: Drone Strikes to Continue
With the Pakistani foreign minister and Army chief of staff in town, what does Leon Panetta vow in his first conversation with the press as director of the CIA? From The Washington Post:
CIA Director Leon Panetta said yesterday that U.S. aerial attacks against al-Qaeda and other extremist strongholds inside Pakistan would continue, despite concerns about a popular Pakistani backlash.
Hardly surprising. CIA officials in Pakistan believe the strikes are doing serious damage to Al Qaeda and Taliban assets and are worth the risk of potential destabilization.
Some interesting statements as well from the Obama administration about what the expect to get out of this week’s talks with the visiting Afghan and Pakistani delegations, who are briefing the White House Af-Pak strategy review:
“We have two goals,” a senior administration official said. One is to receive their input for the Obama administration’s ongoing strategy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said. “But it’s also to hear commitments — the Pakistanis on taking on terrorists themselves, and the Afghans on cleaning up their government.”
“There are not too many brand-new ideas,” the official said. “But our expectations of what they have to do are not just based on what we want them to do, but what they say they’re going to do. It gives us a different basis for going back to them in the future.”
As it happens, I’m at the Center for American Progress for a press conference with the Afghan foreign minister, and will attend one for the Afghan defense minister later this morning.