| GEO World|
| Drone strikes inside Pakistan successful: CIA Chief|
| Updated at: 1719 PST, Thursday, February 26, 2009|
WASHINBGTON: CIA Director Leon Panetta said that U.S. aerial attacks against al-Qaeda and other extremist strongholds inside Pakistan would continue, despite concerns about a popular Pakistani backlash. He added the drone strikes have so far turned successful in accomplishing goals.
"Nothing has changed our efforts to go after terrorists, and nothing will change those efforts," Panetta said in response to questions about CIA missile attacks, launched from unmanned Predator aircraft.
Although he refused to discuss details of the attacks -- and the CIA will not confirm publicly that it is behind the strikes -- Panetta said that the efforts begun under President George W. Bush to destabilize al-Qaeda and destroy its leadership "have been successful."
"I don't think we can stop just at the effort to try to disrupt them. I think it has to be a continuing effort, because they aren't going to stop," Panetta said in his first news briefing since taking the job. The CIA has launched about three-dozen Predator strikes in Pakistan since late last summer, two of them during the Obama administration.