It seems that some top U.S. officials were concerned about our roaming, Hellfire missile-equipped Predator drones in Pakistan--so some concessions have been made about when they can and can't target terrorists, according to The Wall Street Journal. The new restrictions were hashed out in a behind-the-scenes review over the summer, and one source tells the paper that the result was a slightly higher scrutiny placed on deciding to use the weapons: "The bar has been raised. Inside CIA, there is a recognition you need to be damn sure it's worth it." But the tweaks themselves are fairly minor:
The State Department won greater sway in strike decisions; Pakistani leaders got advance notice about more operations; and the CIA agreed to suspend operations when Pakistani officials visit the U.S.
One senior official put it this way to The Journal: "It's not like they took the car keys away from the CIA ... There are just more people in the car." At the same time, however, the newspaper also notes that other officials minimalized the changes:
The CIA concessions were detailed by high-level officials in a series of interviews with The Wall Street Journal. But in a measure of the discord, administration officials have different interpretations about the outcome of the White House review. While some cast the concessions as a "new phase" in which the CIA would weigh diplomacy more heavily in its activities, others said the impact was minimal and that the bar for vetting targets has been consistently high.