And the (Drone) War Drums Beat On

A pilot's heads up display in a ground-control station shows a truck from the view of a camera on an MQ-9 Reaper during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. Drone strikes have become President Obama's preferred tool in America's war on al-Qaida. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama last week told the world he intends to scale back his armed drone program. Well, try telling that to a handful of alleged al-Qaida operatives who, apparently until Wednesday, resided in northwest Pakistan.

The Obama administration green-lighted a drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region that one think tank says killed between four and seven al-Qaida “militants.”

During a landmark counterterrorism speech last Thursday at National Defense University in Washington, the commander in chief announced his administration only would order drone strikes “against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people, and when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat.”

In the days immediately following Obama’s announcement of the scaled-down drone program, no American remotely piloted killing machines, as they say in the military, put steel on a target. But, according to the New America Foundation, that changed on Wednesday when the militants were killed in North Waziristan.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney appeared to confirm the strike — before saying he did not and refusing to comment further. (Reuters reported the strike killed the No. 2 Taliban commander; if true, that would deliver a major blow to al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 hosts and post-9/11 partners.)

But, notably, Carney did not deny the strike occurred. Amid all the punditry and bloviating, Obama’s secret drone war continues.

There have been no U.S. drone strikes in Yemen since Obama’s speech, according to the New America Foundation. The last one there was May 20, three days before Obama’s speech. But the Pakistan strike shows suspected al-Qaida operatives in Yemen might hear that infamous drone buzzing any minute now…

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett