White House Press Secretary Jay Carney stated Thursday that the Obama administration will not be releasing any more information about the controversial use of drones.
Some of the remarks of the off-camera press gaggle:
“This is not an open-ended process. This is a specific and unique accommodation in this circumstance. The fact is, when it comes to public disclosure, we have been — not with the kind of attention that’s been given it this week — but we have been publicly discussing these matters at the highest levels of government for the very reason that I’ve given, which is the President understands that these are core issues about how we conduct ourselves in war, how the President of the United States — any President — balances his constitutional obligation to protect America and American citizens, and his obligation to do so in a manner that is lawful under the Constitution and reflects our values.
“The President takes these issues very seriously, and he believes that the conversation about this is valid and that the questions about it are legitimate. And that’s why he has been leading this process internally to — as has John Brennan, by the way — to provide public information as much as possible, mindful of the fact that we are talking about here very sensitive matters, and that these kinds of things — they’re classification — information is classified for very legitimate reasons that go right to our national security interest.
“But within that, there is an effort underway to provide Congress information — those who have oversight over these matters — classified information as well as unclassified with the white paper and the public information as much as possible.”
Meanwhile, the United Sates is making contingency plans to transform airbases in Central Asia to execute drone attacks in Pakistan. High consideration is being put into this possibility should the White House have no other choice but to withdraw its military troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
In the report, which quoted anonymous US officials, it said the CIA’s fleet of armed Predator and Reaper drones could be moved to airfields ‘to the north’ if Washington is forced to evacuate bases in Afghanistan. “There are contingency plans for alternatives in the north,” it quoted an unnamed official as saying. Out of all the officials, not one revealed what specific nation could potentially be used as an alternative to carry out drone missions.
The officials also kept their mouths shut on whether or not the US was trying to get permission to base its drones in Tajikistan. One month ago, Maj-Gen Michael K Nagata, commander of US special operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, paid a visit to Tajikistan for talks on “issues of bilateral security cooperation” and “continued military cooperation”, according to a US Embassy statement in Dushanbe. Acquiring such bases for military drones in Central Asia could be blocked by Russia, according to what many officials were quoted as saying.
Should alternate bases be locked in place and ready for use, the CIA’s effectiveness of collecting intelligence data to find al-Qaeda clans and swiftly launch drones at set targets in Pakistan’s tribal area will lose a prime advantage if the agency does not have a spot for its drones in Afghanistan.
“People think of drones as if they fly to a place, shoot and go home… but there is a large amount of coordination and intelligence gathering that takes place, and it takes a lot of time and patience,” the report quoted an ex-US official familiar with counter-terrorism operations as saying.
Reprinted from The Voice of Russia.