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Panetta: Escalate Shadow Wars, Expand Black Ops

Spencer Ackerman
Wired [1]
June 11, 2011

Icing Osama bin Laden? Just the beginning, once Leon Panetta makes it to the Pentagon.

At his Thursday confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense [2], CIA Director Panetta made a broad case for expanding the U.S.’ already extensive shadow wars. Now that bin Laden is dead, “we’ve got to keep the pressure up,” Panetta urged senators. Expect a lot of drone strikes and a lot of special ops raids — some conducted by future CIA Director David Petraeus. In a lot of places.

Panetta said he wants to hit al-Qaida’s “nodes” from Pakistan to North Africa, “develop[ing] operations in each of those areas,” so terrorists have “no place to escape.” That means working with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the elite commandos that executed the raid on bin Laden’s Abbotabad compound. And Panetta has some specific ideas about how that should work.

In his written responses to the Senate Armed Services Committee [3], Panetta endorsed a command scheme [4] that would place select U.S. military personnel temporarily under the authority of the CIA director for the most sensitive counterterrorism operations.

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