The South Asia Channel

President Obama nominates Brennan as CIA director

President Obama nominates Brennan as CIA director

Charting a course

President Barack Obama on Monday nominated his chief counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, as director of the CIA, where Brennan would help determine the future of an intelligence agency that has become increasingly involved in paramilitary activity (NYT, Post, CNN, Politico, AP). Brennan has been a vocal advocate of both the legality and morality of drone strikes, and advised Obama through the ramping up of the drone program in Pakistan in 2009 and 2010. Bonus Read: Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland, "John Brennan, Obama’s drone warrior" (CNN).

Two U.S. drone strikes on compounds in North Waziristan killed eight suspected militants early Tuesday morning, in the fourth and fifth such attacks of the new year (AP, ET).

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner on Monday in order to lodge a formal protest over what the Pakistani government is calling an unprovoked attack on an army post by Indian soldiers who crossed the Line of Control separating Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir (AP, Dawn, ). Indian authorities claim that their soldiers were responding to shelling by the Pakistani Army that hit a civilian home on the Indian side.

The deans of twelve of the top public health universities in the United States sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Monday condemning the CIA’s use of a vaccine ruse during the hunt to find Osama bin Laden (NYT). News of a Pakistani doctor working for the CIA severely hampered public health efforts there, and may have exacerbated suspicions that health workers are spies for the West. Nine polio vaccine workers were killed in targeted attacks last month.

Insider attacks continue

In a statement released Tuesday, ISAF officials said "a suspected Afghan soldier opened fire first at Afghan troops and then at British soldiers" in the southern province of Helmand, killing one British service member before being killed himself in return fire (AJE, Guardian).

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in an interview with the Associated Press on Monday that the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy worked in Afghanistan, but that the United States has an "emotional responsibility" to provide Afghans with long-term security support (AP). And Douglas Ollivant, a Senior National Security Fellow at the New America Foundation, discussed the financial cost of a post-2014 U.S. military presence in Afghanistan (TIME).

Drones no match for Fatburger

Rising anti-Americanism as a result of the drone campaign in Pakistan appears to have done little to spoil the appetite Pakistanis have for American food (Bloomberg). The president of Fatburger North America Inc. said at the opening of a restaurant in Karachi, "In food, people don’t look at relations between countries. They just want to eat it."