New York Times Story Details Secret U.S. Drone Deal in Pakistan

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 6 2013 6:04 PM

New York Times Story Details Secret U.S. Drone Deal in Pakistan

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Protesters hoist a model drone in the air as they protest the U.S. military's use of drones during a demonstration on April 3, 2013 in New York.

Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

A New York Times story published Saturday brings to light a deal struck between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pakistani government in 2006 to allow U.S. drones in Pakistani airspace. At the Pakistani government's behest, the CIA ordered a drone strike on Nek Muhammed, a Pashtun tribesman and ally of the Taliban, which killed him along with a 10- and 16-year-old boy.

The C.I.A. had been monitoring the rise of Mr. Muhammad, but officials considered him to be more Pakistan’s problem than America’s. In Washington, officials were watching with growing alarm the gathering of [al] Qaeda operatives in the tribal areas, and George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director, authorized officers in the agency’s Islamabad station to push Pakistani officials to allow armed drones. Negotiations were handled primarily by the Islamabad station.
As the battles raged in South Waziristan, the station chief in Islamabad paid a visit to Gen. Ehsan ul Haq, the ISI chief, and made an offer: If the C.I.A. killed Mr. Muhammad, would the ISI allow regular armed drone flights over the tribal areas?
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The story was excerpted from author Mark Mazzetti's forthcoming book, "The Way of the Knife: The C.I.A., a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth". President Obama's drone policy came under fire a few weeks ago after the release of this data project, which illustrates all of the known drone strikes in the Middle East starting with the Bush administration.

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Emma Roller is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter.

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