Gates: Missile strikes in Pakistan to continueSubmitted by alwayssimon on Tue, 01/27/2009 - 22:12
Who didn't see this coming?
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is retaining a powerful but controversial weapon left over from the Bush administration's war on terror: Predator missile strikes on Pakistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates signaled to senators Tuesday that missile strikes will continue. He did not directly refer to the Predator hunt-and-kill drone program but said the U.S. would continue to strike at al-Qaida inside Pakistan along its border with Afghanistan.
But senior Obama administration and Capitol Hill officials say the Predator strikes are effective, and there is no plan to discontinue the program.
The Predator attacks have strained U.S. relations with Pakistan, which has urged Obama to halt them.
Pakistan was struck last week by missiles that killed at least 22 people. The strike was part of a continuing wave of more than 30 missile attacks since August.
In testimony Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates said Obama and former President George W. Bush were twinned in their efforts to pursue al-Qaida.
"Both President Bush and President Obama have made clear that we will go after al-Qaida wherever al-Qaida is, and we will continue to pursue them," Gates said.
"Has that decision been transmitted to the Pakistan government?" the panel's chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked.
"Yes, sir," Gates responded.
The U.S. rarely acknowledges such missile strikes, at least some of which are carried out with unmanned Predator drones, used by the Pentagon and CIA to hunt down and kill terrorists.
A senior Obama administration official told The Associated Press that the Predator program would remain, saying simply: "It works." The comments were made on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the program publicly.