According to the LA Times the Obama administration is continuing the Bush policy of attacking al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. The Bush policy underwent an important revision last summer and since then has been very successful in severely weakening al Qaeda.
Here are some excerpts from the Times' article:
An intense, six-month campaign of Predator strikes in Pakistan has taken such a toll on Al Qaeda that militants have begun turning violently on one another out of confusion and distrust, U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials say.
The pace of the Predator attacks has accelerated dramatically since August, when the Bush administration made a previously undisclosed decision to abandon the practice of obtaining permission from the Pakistani government before launching missiles from the unmanned aircraft.
Because of its success, the Obama administration is set to continue the accelerated campaign despite civilian casualties that have fueled anti-U.S. sentiment and prompted protests from the Pakistani government.
"This last year has been a very hard year for them," a senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said of al Qaeda militants, whose operations he tracks in northwest Pakistan. "They're losing a bunch of their better leaders. But more importantly, at this point they're wondering who's next."
U.S. intelligence officials said they see clear signs that the Predator strikes are sowing distrust within Al Qaeda. "They have started hunting down people who they think are responsible" for security breaches, the senior U.S. counter-terrorism official said, discussing intelligence assessments on condition of anonymity. "People are showing up dead or disappearing."
But the Predator campaign has depleted the organization's operational tier. Many of the dead are longtime loyalists who had worked alongside Bin Laden and were part of the network's hasty migration into Pakistan in 2001 after U.S.-led forces invaded neighboring Afghanistan. They are being replaced by less experienced recruits who have had little, if any, history with Bin Laden and Zawahiri.
The offensive has been aided by technological advances and an expansion of the CIA's Predator fleet. The drones take off and land at military airstrips in Pakistan, but are operated by CIA pilots in the United States. Some of the pilots -- who also pull the triggers on missiles -- are contractors hired by the agency, former officials said.
The Bush administration had been constrained by its close ties with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who argued against aggressive U.S. action. But by last summer, after a series of disrupted terrorist plots in Europe had been traced to Pakistan, there were calls for a new approach.
The breaking point came when Musharraf was forced to resign mid-August, officials said. Within days, President Bush had approved the new rules: Rather than requiring Pakistan's permission to order a Predator strike, the agency was allowed to shoot first.
The success of the Predator campaign has prompted some counter-terrorism officials to speak of a post-Al Qaeda era in which its regional affiliates -- in North Africa and elsewhere -- are all that remain after the center collapses.
"You can imagine a horizon in which Al Qaeda proper no longer exists," said Juan Zarate, former counter-terrorism advisor to Bush. "If you were to continue on this pace, and get No. 1 and No. 2, Al Qaeda is dead. You can't resuscitate that organization as we know it without its senior leadership."
There are more details at the link. I believe President Obama is doing the right thing by pursuing this course of action, but I have to wonder - is this what the pacifist left had in mind when they cast their troth with the young Senator from Chicago?RLC