Matt Bewig | AllGov
Weapons maker Northrop Grumman (2012 revenues: $25.218 billion) made it rain on Congress to the tune of $31 million in lobbying spending since the beginning of 2012, and in return Congress has passed legislation ordering the Air Force to purchase the arms maker’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, a high-altitude surveillance drone the military canceled nearly two years ago.
Originally pitched as a $35 million money-saver during the parsimonious Clinton years, Global Hawk costs rose over time by 284%, according to the Congressional Research Service, mostly because of the Air Force’s changing requirements, and each drone is now estimated to cost about $220 million.
Although serious doubts had arisen by early 2011, when the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation said that Global Hawk “was not operationally effective for conducting near-continuous, persistent ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] operations,” in June 2011 Air Force officials certified the project as “essential to national security” in order to ensure continued Congressional funding.
Mosharraf Zaidi | The News
If the starting point for analysis in the post Hakeemullah Mehsud world is that he was assassinated by the US with malign intent, (and clearly there is plenty of political capital located within that umbrella) then the conversation to be had is about how to find a way to end the constant abuse of Pakistan by big, bad Uncle Sam.
It is hardly controversial for us to accept and embrace the fact that we cannot keep complaining about the alleged abuse we endure at the hands of America on the one hand, and constantly seek direct and indirect American fiscal generosity on the other. The fiscal contradiction, between the money we want to run Pakistan, and the money we have to ask others to provide to us to do so, is at the heart of the Pakistani republic’s deep and abiding dysfunction.
Let us put it a different way. No Pakistani could ever dream of any scenario better than one in which Pakistan enjoys and exercises full and unmitigated sovereignty. This requires crisp and utter clarity about things like drone strikes conducted by another country in Pakistani territory. If they take place without an explicit agreement authorising them, drone strikes are illegal – always have been, always will be.
Gordon Lubold | Foreign Policy
In May, the White House leaked word that it would start shifting drone operations from the shadows of the CIA to the relative sunlight of the Defense Department in an effort to be more transparent about the controversial targeted killing program. But six months later, the so-called migration of those operations has stalled, and it is now unlikely to happen anytime soon, Foreign Policy has learned.
The anonymous series of announcements coincided with remarks President Obama made on counterterrorism policy at National Defense University in which he called for “transparency and debate on this issue.” A classified Presidential Policy Guidance on the matter, issued at the same time, caught some in government by surprise, triggering a scramble at the Pentagon and at CIA to achieve a White House objective. The transfer was never expected to happen overnight. But it is now clear the complexity of the issue, the distinct operational and cultural differences between the Pentagon and CIA and the bureaucratic politics of it all has forced officials on all sides to recognize transferring drone operations from the Agency to the Defense Department represents, for now, an unattainable goal.