According to the LA times, the motive is to have contingency plans "to protect the United States and its allies." Exactly how those currently fighting the Assad regime, even the Islamic militants, pose a threat to the US is not explained, and in the case of Israel, even a completely secular and completely democratic Syria is likely to demand the Golan Heights back with more vigor, and justice for the Palestinians with greater resolve, and in that way pose a threat to "the United States and its allies."
While drone strikes against Islamist militants fighting Assad may be taken in the name of saving US lives in some hypothetical future, they won't save any Syrian lives now or hinder Assad's massive "Death from Above" campaign against Syrian civilians. Actually, since al-Nustra has been most effective in relieving Assad of bases for his air operations and are attempting to implement a "no-fly zone" over Syria, any Obama attack against al-Nusra would certainly be most welcomed by the embattled Assad regime.
If Obama has the CIA seeking out new targets for his killer drones simply as an extension of his war against al Qaeda, rather than to help the out Assad regime, it's a wonder he doesn't have them looking somewhere else, say Northern Mali, where al Qaeda actually is, and where he would be in sync with other NATO allies, rather than in Syria.
The LA Times article ends by raising some of the very important questions about the presidential powers implicit in this radical new extension of Obama's killer drone policy:
Some former CIA officials expressed skepticism about any idea of using armed drones in Syria. There is no evidence, they said, that Syrian militants pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.Nobody is claiming that the al Nusra front has threaten Americans, and up till now, they have had no reason to, and waging the "War on Terror" against any force currently fighting Assad, makes about as much sense and waging the "War on Communism" against the USSR while it was fighting Hitler.
"If we do this, why don't we start droning people in Hezbollah?" asked a former CIA officer who worked in Iraq, referring to the Lebanon-based militant group that Washington considers a terrorist organization. "It opens the door for a lot of other things."
As one young Islamic fighter in Syria said last week about Obama's classification of Jabhat al-Nusra as terrorist organization:
It did not commit any terrorist acts outside Syria, and it doesn't have any links to al-Qaida, but it was classified as a terrorist organization. Why? Because it resisted [Syrian president] Bashar al Assad.Now we can guess why Obama declared al-Nusra Front a terrorist organization just when they are leading so many successful attacks against the Assad regime. It wasn't just a diplomatic gesture of support for Assad's "War Against Terror", it was to lay the "legal" and administrative basis for moving practical support for the Assad regime from the passive-aggressive stage to planning military moves against President Assad's enemies.
The LA Times article doesn't address the issues of Syrian sovereignty and the Russian veto that have been blamed for the lack of a US armed response to Assad's campaign of "Death from Above" that has cost so many Syrian lives in the past year, presumably because the Russians and the Assad regime will be on the same page as the Obama administration with regards to attacks against the "terrorists gangs", that won't be much of a problem:
Again, we can see why the Daily Kos had to banned me from their site for my "bizarre CT assertions" when they did. They had to denounce what they called a "conspiracy theory," my thesis that the Obama administration favors preserving the Assad regime in Syria because it is true, and they had to try to shut me up because the facts are proving it true more and more every day.
CIA begins sizing up Islamic extremists in Syria for drone strikes
The strategy is part of the agency's secret contingency planning to protect the U.S. and its allies as the violence there grows. Some militants in Syria are seen as closely linked to Al Qaeda.
By Ken Dilanian and Brian Bennett
March 15, 2013, 4:32 p.m.
WASHINGTON — The CIA has stepped up secret contingency planning to protect the United States and its allies as the turmoil expands in Syria, including collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists for the first time for possible lethal drone strikes, according to current and former U.S. officials.
President Obama has not authorized drone missile strikes in Syria, however, and none are under consideration.
The Counterterrorism Center, which runs the CIA’s covert drone killing program in Pakistan and Yemen, recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on militants in Syria who could pose a terrorist threat, the officials said.
The targeting officers have formed a unit with colleagues who were tracking Al Qaeda operatives and fighters in Iraq. U.S. officials believe that some of these operatives have moved to Syria and joined Islamic militias battling to overthrow President Bashar Assad. More...
Here are some of my other blogs on Obama's support for Assad:
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
Obama "green lights" Assad's slaughter in Syria
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
Chemical weapons use reported in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
SecState John Kerry and his "dear friend" Bashar al-Assad
How Obama's 'No MANPADS for you' policy in Syria is backfiring
More thoughts on Obama's 'No MANPADS for you!' policy