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CIA Asks Obama For A Major Expansion Of Its Drone Fleet

Nicholas Slayton |
October 19, 2012 | 3:53 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

An MQ-1 Predator, used by the CIA and Pentagon, prepares for takeoff in Southwest Asia. (Charles McCain/Flickr)
An MQ-1 Predator, used by the CIA and Pentagon, prepares for takeoff in Southwest Asia. (Charles McCain/Flickr)

The CIA wants more drones, and is trying to get the Obama administration to approve an expansion of its unmanned arsenal, anonymous officials told The Washington Post. The proposal comes from the director of the CIA, David Petraeus.

If approved, the CIA would gain another 10 drones, bringing its arsenal to at least 40. The request comes in the context of emerging dangers from North Africa. The CIA is concerned about the continued presence of al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb, notably in Libya, as well as Islamist militants who seized and control parts of Mali.

Extremist militias are seen as the cause of the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The CIA is also concerned about the flow of weapons out of Libya following last year's civil war, worried that they could end up in the hands of militants.

SEE ALSO: Libya Embassy Attack Suspect Relaxes And Scoffs At America And Libya

“With what happened in Libya, we’re realizing that these places are going to heat up,” an official told The Washington Post. “I think we’re actually looking forward a little bit.”

The CIA uses drones for reconnaissance and strikes as part of ongoing secret wars in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other nations. The exact range of activities is unknown, but in Pakistan, for instance, there have been more than 330 drone strikes that killed almost 10 times as many people since 2004. An American drone that had been spying on Iran's activities crashed in the Islamic Republic last December.

Drones have been used as a way to target militants and terrorists without sending troops into those countries.

However, reactions within those countries to drone activity is extremely negative. In Pakistan, politician Imran Khan organized a massive protest against American drone strikes, but was stopped from entering the tribal region of South Waziristan – home to militants and a frequent target of the drones – by Pakistani authorities. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar called the attacks “illegal” and the main cause for anti-Americanism in the country.

SEE ALSO: Drone Attacks Not Worth The Killing Of Civilians

The Pentagon maintains its own drone fleet which is significantly larger than the CIA's.

Read more of Neon Tommy's drone coverage here.

Contact Executive Producer Nicholas Slayton here. Follow him here.



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