The case of the missing drone strikes

There have been previous pauses in Predator strikes before—Bill Roggio’s authoritative log at www.longwarjournal.org shows two shutdowns in 2009 (of 33 and 28 days in length) and two in 2010 (of 19 and 15 days in length). In those instances, bad weather was indeed cited as the cause. But this time, the Waziri residents seem to have guessed right. Newsweek has confirmed that it’s no coincidence the ramped-up attacks ended abruptly with Davis’ arrest. A senior Pakistani official has confirmed that Davis’ case is directly connected to the freezing of the attacks, and says that Washington is afraid of further inflaming anti-American sentiment in Pakistan in the wake of the shootings. The U.S. insists that Davis fired in self-defense at the men—who reportedly flashed guns at him as they drove by on a motorcycle—and that he enjoys full diplomatic immunity. Embassy officials are pressing for him to be released immediately into American custody. The Pakistani police, meanwhile, are considering possible murder charges. This week, the Lahore court gave Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari’s beleaguered government three more weeks to decide whether Davis, who remains in jail, is indeed entitled to full diplomatic protection…

Many Pakistanis also question why Davis, who was dressed in jeans and a checkered shirt on the night of the arrest, was driving through Lahore with a loaded pistol, extra magazines and ammunition, a GPS device, several cell phones and a telescope. The U.S. government also has its own questions about what Davis and other shadowy Americans are up to in Pakistan. According to the senior Pakistani official, the U.S. government has only a sketchy notion of what Davis and other security contractors and intelligence agents are actually doing on the ground. As a result, the CIA’s activities in Pakistan have more or less been temporarily shut down, according to the official, while a review of the agency’s activities is carried out. Hence the temporary drone freeze, since the drone program is under the direction of the CIA.