Washington, Dec. 1 : Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, who previously proposed scaling back the armed drone operation run in Pakistan by the Central Intelligence Agency, is now urging that program be publicly acknowledged and placed in the hands of the U. S. military.
"Covert action that goes on for years doesn’t generally stay covert," Blair said during a forum Monday at the Aspen Institute''s Washington office.
Politico further quoted him, as saying: "You need a way to make it something that is part of your overt policy. I think that the way that we know about to do that is to make it a military operation and therefore, when you are going to be using drones over a long period of time, I would say you ought to give strong consideration to running those as military operations."
Blair said handing over the anti-terrorism operation to the military would make it easier for the U. S. government to discuss targeting procedures and precautions taken to avoid civilian casualties, sometimes referred to as collateral damage.
" I argue strongly that covert action should be retained for relatively short duration operations which — no kidding — should not be talked about and should not be publicized. ... If something has been going for a long period of time, somebody else ought to do it, not intelligence agencies," he said.
Blair''s suggestion tracks with a recommendation of the widely praised 9/11 Commission that was essentially rejected by the government.
Representatives of tje CIA, which does not publicly acknowledge its drone campaign targeting Al Qaeda operatives and other terrorist figures in Pakistan, did not respond to a request for comment on Blair''s remarks. (ANI)