20 dead in two U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan

A candygram from The One to AQ: No change, no hope.

Security officials said the strikes, which saw up to five missiles slam into houses in separate villages, killed seven “foreigners” – a term that usually means al-Qaeda – but locals also said that three children lost their lives…

Eight people died when missiles hit a compound near Mir Ali, an al-Qaeda hub in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. Seven more died when hours later two missiles hit a house in Wana, in South Waziristan. Local officials said the target in Wana was a guest house owned by a pro-Taleban tribesman. One said that as well as three children, the tribesman’s relatives were killed in the blast.

“I suspect a high-value target may be among the dead,” a Pakistani official tells WaPo, but Roggio hasn’t heard of any big fish being involved. I could have sworn that I read somewhere a few months back that Bush had expanded Centcom’s discretion to undertake these attacks on its own, without approval from the top, but after searching for half an hour I’ve come up empty. Doesn’t matter: Presumably that rule would have been suspended after Obama was sworn in lest a freelance operation spoil his plans for Pakistan, which in turn means he must have signed off on this one. Smells like a message to the other side that he means business. Mission accomplished.

The left, you’ll be pleased to know, is already starting to kick around “non-military solutions” to the good war in Afghanistan. Exit question: Never mind the drone strikes, which anyone to the right of Dennis Kucinich would have continued. How about reinstating this policy, which Bush set and then quickly un-set after Pakistan complained? And while we’re at it, where do we stand on this?