New details have emerged on the origins of the CIA drone war in Pakistan. The New York Times reports the Pakistani government agreed to allow the drone attacks in return for the CIA’s assassination of a Pakistani militant who was not even a target of the United States. The militant, Nek Muhammad, was killed by a CIA Predator drone in 2004. Pakistan took credit for the attack under the terms of its agreement with the CIA, which also called for Pakistani approval of all strikes. The major impetus for the CIA’s shift toward killing militants through drone attacks appears to have been its reduced ability to carry out torture and secret detention. The drone program expanded just after a scathing inspector general report put the brakes on the CIA’s torture and extraordinary rendition of foreign prisoners.
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