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Despite curbs on target killings, CIA to get free hand in Pakistan

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Jan 21, IRNA -- The Obama administration is finalising a rule book for target killings but these restrictions will not apply to Pakistan where the CIA will be free to direct drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, said a media report on Monday.

‘Dawn’ said that the classified manual, called a counter-terrorism “playbook”, sets out stringent rules for targeted killings and details the process of adding names to the so-called “kill list”.

But it leaves open a major exemption for the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan.

The CIA would have this freedom for “less than two years but more than one” because its drone strategy had been very effective in weakening pro-Taliban militants.

The CIA is expected to give the US ambassador to Pakistan advance notice on strikes. But in practice, the agency exercises near complete control over the names on its target list and decisions on strikes.

But once the CIA achieved its targets in Pakistani tribal areas, the rule book would also be applied to Pakistan.

The document will be submitted to President Barack Obama within weeks for final approval once some minor issues are resolved.

The rule book marks the culmination of a year-long effort by the administration to codify its counter-terrorism policies and create a guide for lethal operations through President Obama’s second term.

The book covers the process for adding names to the kill list, legal principles for targeting US citizens and the sequence of approvals required when the CIA or US military conduct drone strikes outside war zones.

The decision to allow the CIA strikes to continue was driven by concern that the window for weakening Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan was beginning to close, as the US prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

President Obama’s national security team agreed to the CIA compromise in late December during a meeting of top national security officials that was led by White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, who has since been nominated to serve as CIA director.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 1055382

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