Is CIA Using Pakistani Base And Intel?

Viewed from space, a remote air base in Western Pakistan looked innocent enough, until the day a satellite exposed its secret.

Images published this week show what appear to be predator drones, which the CIA uses to launch missiles against terrorist safe-havens inside Pakistan, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

Although Pakistan publicly condemns the strikes, it not only provides a base for the drones, but also intelligence about their targets - and it imposes restrictions on exactly which terrorists can be hit.

Some of the biggest fish, such as Taliban leader Mullah Omar, are never targeted due to their secret ties to Pakistani intelligence, according to Christine Fair of Rand Corp.

"These fellows are completely off-limits, and yet these fellows are so responsible for so much of the violence that is happening in Afghanistan," she said.

In an attempt to stop cross-border raids into Afghanistan, the CIA has launched more than 30 missile strikes since August, killing nine senior al Qaeda operatives.

But Fair argues the strikes have also damaged America's standing in Pakistan.

"It cannot be overstated how much anti-Americanism exists there, and it's ironic, because we've spent, what, $12 billion, and what we've gotten for that is a more insecure Pakistan that is more fearful of us than al Qaeda," Fair said.

That's a remarkable statement: the U.S. treats Pakistan as an indispensable ally in the war against terror, yet Pakistanis view the United States as a greater threat than al Qaeda.

For all of their drawbacks, U.S. officials insist that without the drone attacks, the war in Afghanistan would be going even worse and the chances of another terrorist strike against the United States even greater.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.