CIA Director David Petraeus has requested permission to launch drone strikes in Yemen even when the agency is not sure who the strikes might kill. Instead, the CIA would launch attacks based on patterns of suspicious activity, much the way it does in Pakistan, a tactic known as "signature strikes," the Washington Post reports. But President Obama has long insisted the agency be more cautious in Yemen, attacking only when it has specific intelligence on targets.
Signature strikes have been effective in Pakistan, and proponents say US intelligence in Yemen has improved enough to limit the risk of civilian casualties. But some US officials fear that the strikes would embroil the US in a regional conflict, because al-Qaeda is "joined at the hip" with the local, anti-government insurgency. "How discriminating can they be?" asked one official. "There is the potential we would be perceived as taking sides in a civil war."