Pakistani legal action targets U.S. drone program

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani lawyer filed charges Monday against the CIA’s former legal counsel for authorizing drone missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal area that activists say killed mostly innocent civilians.

Advocacy groups hope that the charges against John A. Rizzo, a now-retired longtime CIA lawyer, will lead eventually to a lawsuit in the United States over the controversial, secretive drone program, which is highly unpopular in Pakistan but has become a central tool of the Obama administration’s fight against al Qaida and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas near Afghanistan.

The use of the unmanned drones began in 2004, but President Barack Obama has ramped it up significantly. While the CIA and other U.S. government officials don’t publicly comment on the drones as a matter of policy, Washington claims privately that there are few civilian victims.

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