Predator drones flown from base in Pakistan, U.S. lawmaker says [Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)]

Predator drones flown from base in Pakistan, U.S. lawmaker says Sen. Feinstein's surprise disclosure likely to complicate joint campaign against Taliban militants Greg Miller | Washington Bureau 7:06 PM CST, February 12, 2009 WASHINGTON, D.C. - A senior U.S. lawmaker said Thursday that unmanned CIA Predator aircraft operating in Pakistan are flown from an airbase inside that country, a revelation likely to embarrass the Pakistani government and complicate its counterterrorism collaboration with the United States. The disclosure by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, marked the first time a U.S. official had publicly commented on...
"As I understand it, these are flown out of a Pakistani base," she said of the planes.The basing of the pilotless aircraft in Pakistan suggests a much deeper relationship with the United States on counterterrorism matters than has been publicly acknowledged. Such an arrangement would be at odds with protests lodged by officials in Islamabad and could inflame anti-American sentiment in the country.

The CIA declined to comment, but former U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, confirmed that Feinstein's account was accurate.

Phil LaVelle, a spokesman for Feinstein, said her comment was based solely on previous news reports that Predators were operated from bases near Islamabad.

"We strongly object to Sen. Feinstein's remarks being characterized as anything other than a reference" to a article that appeared last March in the Washington Post, LaVelle said. Feinstein did not refer to newspaper accounts during the hearing.


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