Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Ex-CIA officials to be charged in Pakistan over 2009 drone strike
ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani judge on Tuesday ordered that criminal charges be filed against a former CIA lawyer who oversaw its drone program and the one-time chief agency operative in Islamabad over a 2009 strike that killed two people.
Former acting general counsel John A. Rizzo and ex-station chief Jonathan Bank must face charges including murder, conspiracy, terrorism and waging war against Pakistan, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court ruled. A court clerk and a lawyer involved the case, Mirza Shahzad Akbar, confirmed details of the judge’s ruling.
Rizzo and Bank could not be immediately reached for comment. The CIA will have no comment, spokesman Chris White told The Associated Press.
The legal action comes as the number of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan has fallen precipitously from their 2010 high, amid signs that the U.S. and Pakistan have been more closely cooperating on counterterrorism issues after years of tensions. It is unclear how the criminal charges will affect that cooperation, even though the defendants will almost certainly never see the inside of a Pakistani courtroom.
The only way the case could go forward is if U.S. officials cooperate with the Pakistani court, which is inconceivable given that the drone strikes were carried out under a program ordered by two successive U.S. presidents.