US lawmaker defends drone killing of Hakimullah Mehsud

Updated November 03, 2013

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Hakimullah Mehsud. — AFP/ File Photo
Hakimullah Mehsud. — AFP/ File Photo

WASHINGTON: A US lawmaker whose committee oversees the intelligence community on Sunday defended the drone strike that killed a Pakistani Taliban leader and said it would help keep American troops safe.

Representative Mike Rogers, who chairs the House of Representatives' permanent intelligence committee, said the slain militant, Hakimullah Mehsud, was a “bad guy” who was connected to attacks against Pakistani soldiers and to the Taliban in Afghanistan, which has forced closures of many schools for girls.

“This was a bad guy,” Rogers said on CBS' “Face the Nation.”

“There's some information recently that concerned us about the safety of our troops. I feel a little better for our troops today than I did before this event happened.”

Mehsud, who took over as the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban in 2009, was killed on Friday, along with three others, in a US drone strike in northwest Pakistan.

The Pakistani government denounced the killing as an attempt by the United States to interfere with peace talks between Pakistan's government and the Taliban.

Pakistani officials said they would review ties with Washington and some politicians there called for blocking critical US military supply lines into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban has beheaded Pakistani soldiers and orchestrated suicide bombings that have killed thousands of civilians.

Rogers also said Mehsud had ties to a failed attempt to bomb New York's Times Square in 2010.

He said US intelligence agencies, including the embattled National Security Agency, collect and contribute the kinds of information that make such strikes possible.

“We deal with these threats every single day, and they are big, they are real and they affect real people,” Rogers said.