By Gareth Porter, Consortium News, Sep. 6, 2011
When David Petraeus settles into his new office at the Central Intelligence Agency, he will be taking over an organization whose chief mission has changed in recent years from gathering and analyzing intelligence to waging military campaigns through drone strikes in Pakistan, as well as in Yemen and Somalia.
But the transformation of the CIA did not simply follow the expansion of the drone war in Pakistan to its present level. CIA Director Michael Hayden lobbied hard for that expansion at a time when drone strikes seemed like a failed experiment.
The reason Hayden pushed for a much bigger drone war, it now appears, is that it had already created a whole bureaucracy in the anticipation of such a war.
During 2010, the CIA “drone war” in Pakistan killed as many as 1,000 people a year, compared with the roughly 2,000 a year officially estimated to have been killed by the Special Forces “night raids” in Afghanistan, according to a report in the Sept. 1 Washington Post.
A CIA official was quoted by the Post as saying that the CIA had become “one hell of a killing machine,” before quickly revising the phrase to “one hell of an operational tool”.