Last week’s air attack in Pakistan by American Special Ops forces represented the first of a three-part strategy by the Bush administration to ramp up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other key al-Qaida players during the last weeks before the November elections, according to government sources contacted for this report by NPR.
“Definitely, the gloves have come off,” said a source who has been briefed on the plan. “This was only Phase 1 of three phases.”
Pentagon and White House officials have declined to discuss the new plan.
The intelligence community already had approval from the president to carry out operations inside Pakistan, which included attacks by Predator drones, which can carry 100-pound Hellfire missiles.
Additional authority came from the president just recently that allowed incursions by U.S. Special Operations forces, the source said.
A second source said that lawmakers on Capitol Hill were briefed on the new plan shortly before The New York Times broke the story this week about the Special Operations raid from Afghanistan into Pakistan. The source also said that CIA personnel from around the world were being pulled into the Afghan-Pakistan border area, an intelligence-community “surge” to go after bin Laden and other al-Qaida figures.