Skip to content

After vowing transparency, US mum on drone killing

After vowing transparency, US mum on drone killing

The United States on Wednesday refused to confirm that it killed the number two in the Pakistani Taliban, despite President Barack Obama’s promise of more transparency on the drone war.

The killing of Waliur Rehman, deputy leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was the first known US drone strike since Obama’s speech last week laying out new criteria for the covert use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

His death was the first test of whether US authorities would provide more transparency on drone operations by the CIA or the military after Obama’s pledge of greater accountability over the use of such attacks.

“We are not in a position to confirm the reports of Waliur Rehman’s death,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, following an attack in which the TTP number two and at least five others were killed.

“If those reports were true, or prove to be true, it’s worth noting that his demise would deprive the TTP of its second-in-command and chief military strategist.” Carney said.

Carney said Rehman was also wanted in connection with attacks on US and NATO personnel in Afghanistan and for involvement in the attack on American citizens in Khost, Afghanistan on December 30, 2009.

That strike, though Carney did not describe it in detail, was a dark day in CIA history, when seven counter-terrorism agents and security contractors were killed in a suicide bombing in a remote outpost.

Carney would not confirm whether the attack on Rehman satisfied the new criteria for drone strikes established by Obama last week during a speech that aimed to recast the country’s decade-long battle against terrorism.

In the speech, Obama said that lethal force would only be used to “prevent or stop attacks against US persons,” when capture is not feasible and if a target poses a “continuing, imminent threat” to Americans.

But Carney pointed out a clause in Obama’s speech in which he said that in the “Afghan war theater” Washington must support its troops until the NATO withdrawal is complete in 2014.

The president said that strikes would continue against “high value Al-Qaeda targets, but also against forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces.”

A CIA spokesman also declined to confirm Rehman’s death.

Security, tribal and intelligence officials told AFP in Pakistan that Rehman, who had a $5 million US government bounty on his head, was the target of the strike in North Waziristan and was killed.

Comment count on this article reflects comments made on and Facebook. Visit Breitbart's Facebook Page.