Maybe it was one of the worst kept secrets in Washington and Pakistan, but U.S. officials rarely admit publicly to the active use of drones to hunt down Al Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan. One reason is out of deference to the Pakistan, whose government relents to the drone flights even while publicly condemning it because the Pakistani populace is so against the strikes.
That being said, the president on Monday casually revealed to his Google+ hangout that "a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA, and going after al Qaeda suspects who are up in very tough terrain on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. For us to be able to get them in another way would involve probably a lot more intrusive military actions than the one we're already engaging in." (FATA being the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan where Al Qaeda and many Taliban are ensconced).
The answer will likely anger Pakistan which, our Islamabad-based correspondent Reza Sayah reports, is already unhappy about Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta telling CBS's 60 Minutes that he believes, in his opinion, someone in Pakistan's government had to know about Osama bin Laden hiding in Abbattobad.
That same interview also had Panetta revealing about the doctor who helped the U.S. track down Osama bin Laden. Another detail that while it has been reported, had not been publicly acknowledged before by the American government.
This all comes as Pakistan and the U.S. are at a stand still in relations. After a border post firefight that killed two dozen Pakistani troops, cooperation has been frozen. The U.S. only recently restarted drone strikes but key border crossings for moving NATO supplies into Afghanistan remain shut by the Pakistanis.
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