The London Times gives the suicide bombing that killed seven CIA operatives this lurid billing: “CIA caught in dirty and secretive war against al-Qaeda on Afghan border.” The article is interesting, but fails to live up to its billing as it offers no evidence that the Agency was “caught” as a result of this successful terrorist attack:
Forward Operating Base Chapman, and others like it along the border, are the forward edge of American military and intelligence counter-terrorism operations, aimed principally at hunting down senior figures in al-Qaeda and their allies in the Taleban hiding in the lawless tribal belt.
The CIA’s main strike weapons are the drones that loiter over the border areas 24 hours a day, watching and listening to telephone networks. While the drones provide surveillance and electronic intelligence and carry out strikes, human intelligence is far harder to acquire among remote communities suspicious of any outsider.
Then there are the night raids against suspected insurgent and al-Qaeda linked leaders. It was an operation by what are euphemistically called “other government agencies” that was alleged to have killed a number of students in Kunar province on Saturday, causing widespread anger in Afghanistan. …
Such units answer directly to the Pentagon rather than to the Nato command structure, and their operations are often so secretive that even other US forces operating nearby are sometimesmay be unaware of them.
Which sounds fine to me. You have to read to the end to find out how successful the Agency’s operations have been:
Such has been the effectiveness of strikes on the terrorist command structure that there are persistent reports of al-Qaeda leadership figures relocating to urban areas in Pakistan and shifting the focus of their operations towards Yemen, Somalia and other areas of the Horn of Africa.
This is, of course, the kind of offensive action against terrorists that I talked about here. So far, at least, the Obama administration hasn’t found it necessary to read terrorists in Afghanistan their rights and get them a lawyer.
PAUL adds: What’s striking to me about this attack is that it was directed at precisely the people who have been causing terrorists and their leaders to be killed. It was not intended to terrorize, and the CIA won’t back off. I think it was intended, at least in part, to increase the survival prospects of the terrorists who ordered the attack and their comrades.
And that will probably be its effect for a while. The amount of expertise available to direct attacks against terrorists in the region has just decreased, and probably substantially.