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RG: 148 Exposition, Anniversary, and Memorial Commissions
SERIES: Team 3,9/11 Commission


BOX: 00003 FOLDER: 0003 TAB: 1 DOC ID: 31205829


The item identified below has been withdrawn from this file:

FOLDER TITLE: Hurley's Predator File

DOCUMENT DATE: 04/02/2004 DOCUMENT TYPE: E-Mail Printout/(Profs Notes)

FROM: Albion

TO: Zelikow/Front Office

SUBJECT: Op-ed on Predator and...

This document has been withdrawn for the following reason(s):
9/11 Closed by Statute

Mike Hurley

From: Philip Zelikow
Sent: Friday, April 02, 2004 6:55 PM
To: Front Office
Cc: Team 2; Team 3
Subject: Op-ed on Predator and Maher

Alexis --

I'm not so sanguine that this account can be reconciled with the testimony of Jumper and

But Rosenwasser is not a primary source for this information. My original question to you
sought to learn the identities of these primary sources so that we could talk with them
directly, rather than relying on Rosenwasser's account of their views -- which do seem
inconsistent with those of the program manager.

On another subject, I'd like to press the point of arranging an interview with John Maher,
who can shed light on this and many other subjects. I've reviewed the CIA IG interview
material. We heard him on a couple of topics. Maher apparently has a remarkable memory
on other subjects too. He is a Tier B witness, and we need to schedule him soon.
Stephanie, will you get Dan L.'s help to assist Alexis and Bonnie in getting this set up?

Original Message
From: Alexis Albion
Sent: Friday, April 02, 2004 6:46 PM
To: Philip Zelikow; Chris Kojm; Dan Marcus
Cc: Team 2; Team 3
Subject: RE: Op-ed on Predator

Philip, Chris and Dan:

I just met with Gordon's acquaintance, Jon Rosenwasser, who is writing his dissertation on
the military's development of UAVs. Jon's research has of necessity been open sources,
including the trade press. He has also interviewed a number of those people involved in
development of the armed UAV including, for example, contract support.

Jon's findings are not necessarily incompatible with our own, but he does add some texture
to the Air Force side of the story. As we know, AF testing was going on through the
spring of 2001. At the same time, the Air Combat Command was developing formal doctrine
documents, which included a formal concept of operations for Predator that incorporated
new missions, including that of the armed hunter-killer and use as forward air controller.
A draft was completed at about the same time as tests ended, at the beginning of June—but
the final version was not agreed upon, and signed by Gen. Jumper, until the beginning of

During this 2 month period, Jon sees the armed UAV as having been technologically ready to
fly. This is the opinion coming out of Big Safari, the acquisition office the AF used for
special mission aircraft. But the CONOPS was held up from June to August because of
doctrinal disagreement between the ACC and the USAF's Aeronautical System Command. The
ASC's perspective was that Predator should be reserved for recon purposes. According to
Jon, Big Safari operators did not need a formal CONOPS document to fly armed Predator
effectively once the tests were completed in the spring.

I think what we have here is a story that is not incompatible with what we've already
heard. In fact, it reflects quite nicely the sort of institutional tensions that we've
seen within the CIA toward this UAV project. At the working level of Big Safari, the
operators felt they were ready to go in the summer of 2001. Perhaps there were some
remaining technical issues (as Jumper told us). But it is Big Safari's job to make rapid
reaction changes to programs to meet immediate user needs — that' s why it has special
acquisition techniques at its disposal. From the operators' point of view, it was: just
tell us what you want, and we'll make it happen. Jumper was, understandably, more
cautious, but he had been pushing the program from the get-go--he was an enabler in this

Where we see resistance is at the mid-management, corporate level. Within the
Aeronautical System Command there may well have been cultural resistance to adapting a
recon asset for combat missions--to adjusting to a new paradigm. There seems to have been
a similar resistance at the DDO level within CIA.

Is it worth pursuing the Big Safari part of this story? Jumper may have been putting a
bit of his own spin on the technical difficulties going on during the summer of 2001,
accentuating the positive and playing down some of the institutional problems. Gration
only spoke of logistical issues that needed to be settled, not technical. The texture
that Jon's research adds to this story may give a little more weight to the question:
could the Predator have flown a couple of months earlier if, at the policy level, there
had been the urgency and the willingness to take risks during the summer of 2001?

I'll be reading through some of the materials Jon gave me this weekend. Let me know if
you want to do anything more with this.

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Information on the Predator

In early Summer 2000, there were a number of military options floating around. One that
captured the attention of Clarke was the use of the forty-nine-foot unmanned flying
drone, the Predator, armed with precision video and infrared cameras, to locate bin
Laden. (B&J, 321). The Predator was one, the use of a proxy force into the field against
UBL was the second and arming the Northern Alliance forces was the third.

There were different objections to this idea:
1. Pentagon folks did not like the idea of the new battlefield surveillance system
being adapted for an intelligence mission.
2. DO of CIA concerned because it is paramilitary and would "screw up my
relationship with the host government." (B&S, p. 321)
3. Some in intelligence believed it intriguing and backed the idea.

In the summer of 2000, first round of tests conducted in the US to acquaint the 1C with
the Predator's capabilities.
1. flight tests over Afghanistan began in September
2. the drone failed to take off properly in first test
3. another was sent afloat and Clarke later shown a videotape of Arabs and
someone likely to be UBL. A CD of this tape was shown to Clinton and

The Predator flew twelve times over Afghanistan
1. one flight was aborted
2. most of the missions dedicated to viewing sites UBL believed to frequent
3. three times believed they spotted UBL, twice on film shot by the drone and
once in real time as he emerged from his house outside Kandahar
4. hi DC, a debate began over if that was UBL
5. Later, Taliban radar tracked the drone and MiG fighters were sent to intercept
it. These failed and fly right past the drone
6. The tests ended in October as winter arrived in Afghanistan and a battle began
in DC over the future of the program

Money issues
1. After the first drone crashed, there was a bill to pay
2. CIA had not budgeted for this and did not want to compensate the Pentagon
3. Program was suspended: who would cover further costs - satellite time for
relaying pictures for example - was unclear
4. Price tag approximately $200,000.
5. hi December 2000, Secretary of the Air Force, Whit Peters, found the money
but the future of the program was not assured. [B&S, p. 322-323]

Clarke remained interested in the Predator
1. the program was not yet back on track, despite successes
2. CIA and DOD continued to argue after AF paid for the damage to earlier one


3. The two argued as to who would pay for lost craft in the future - CIA did not
want to pay. [B&S, p. 336
4. CIA was still unsure, but backed the idea of trying to arm the drone (see

Nature of the program
1. the nature or the program changed
2. discussions began about adding a weapon on the Predator
3. Why: if can see UBL in real time and fire a missile, that would take seconds
to strike
4. Problem: launching cruise missiles and not knowing if the target would
remain in place for hours would disappear

Weaponizing the Predator
1. Air Force began experimenting with mounting a Hellfire C missile - a laser
guide, hundred-pound air-to-surface missile- on the craft
2. however, now, the Predator would not fly over Afghanistan in the spring, as
planned, and so could not provide the possible second thread of intelligence
indicating UBL's whereabouts
3. not enough drones or technicians to handle them do to reconnaissance and
testing at once
4. the submarines had been taken off station in the Arabian Sea
5. Any near term chance of striking terrorists with CM was foreclosed.
6. The armed predator idea was originally slated for 3 years of testing and
modifications before it was deployed
7. Clarke and Cressey worked on the AF to compress the program and complete
in 3 months (Cressey also wanted to get the Predator into action)
8. Tests for the drone were conducted in late spring and early summer
9. Cressey watched the Predator test in Nevada and thought the outcome
excellent (watched the Predator fire from thousands o feet at a replica of
UBLs house outside Kandahar

1. Test not enough to get the Predator deployed to Afghanistan
2. raised a host of issues discussed for months following
3. Whose finger on the trigger when the Predator went after UBL - the AF or
CIA? If the Predator's control unit was in another country, would that
country's permission be required to fire the missile? What was the chain of
command for such an operation? Who would issue the decision to fire - the
CIA? White House? IF the White House, who in the White House? Did there
have to be a list of approved targets if the President was not readily available?
[B&S, p. 338]

Change in CIA's position
1. The Agency's position on the Predator had changed by the Summer of 2001
2. its enthusiasm for the Predator had waned



3. individuals at Langely did not want responsibility for the program, despite
strong advocacy of prominent people in the 1C for the program
4. Record of the debate in incomplete
5. CIA obstacles
a. Objected that the Hellfire missile had not done enough damage t the
mock UBL house
b. A bigger drone was needed to ensure sufficient destruction
c. DO argued it wanted to use the money to push harder for human
d. WH responded that it thought the DO had enough money for that
e. Argued it was not appropriate for CIA to operate the Predator. The
responsibility belonged to the Air Force, which deployed aircraft that
carried ordinance
f. DO heard to say if used with lethal force and responsibility for this
laid at the CIA's doorstep, it would endanger the lives of CIA
operatives around the world
g. the AF responded that if it had the mission, it would use B-52s and not
"some spindly drone."
h. The generals raised other issues: where could UBL be targeted? Could
he be hit in a mosque? What about the issue of the placement of the
control unit in a foreign country?
i. "Predator was a hornet's nest." [B&S, p. 344]

First Principles Meeting to discuss As-Qaeda, September 4, 2001
1. Rice asked, who is going to run it? Would it do the job?
2. raised at the meeting the Hellfire missile was not a penetrator and there was
concern it would hit the roof of a structure and not destroy the target
3. Monitors the SF used scored the test at somehow below the 85% kill
probability that was desirable
4. AF wanted more testing. The first shot was the best the US would get.
5. Who would operate the Predator?
a. Tenet: it would be a mistake for CIA to operate and fire a weapon.
"Over his dead body."
b. WH responded - that decision is for the President
c. Meyers: if we do it, we'll do it with CM. If it is CA, it belongs to the
d. "Any possibility of agreement was slipping away."
6. What about an operation for reconnaissance only and not an armed Predator
a. Tenet: more palatable, but CIA still needs to review the matter
7. Test another weapon besides the Hellfire?
a. Who would fire an armed Predator was deferred.
"The meeting ended. There was no decision on Predator and no strategy to
forward to the President." [B&S, p. 346]


November 2001
1. The armed Predator flew over Afghanistan
2. it identified a house where a large al-Qaeda meeting was taking place
3. Navy F/A-18 fighter were alerted and bombed the house
4. Predator fired two Hellfire missiles when the inhabitants emerged
5. Milled Muhammad Atef, al-Qaeda's military chief for nearly a decade.
[B&S, p. 349]

Mike Hurlev
From: Gordon Lederman
Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2004 2:14 PM
To: Team 3; Team 2
Subject: Op-ed on Predator
/9/11 Personal Privacy

'redator 3-25-04.d..
Good afternoon.
FYI below, from an acquaintance doing his PhD on DoD's development of UAVs. He evidently
watched the hearings over the last couple days and called me this morning, as he thought
that the staff might be interested in his draft op-ed.

Best regards to all, and congratulations to T3 on the hearings.

-Original Message-
From: Jon Rosenwasser [mailto:|_
Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2004 1:14 PM
To: Gordon Lederman
Subject: Predator UAV Availability?

Gordon --

In response to some of the testimony I've read, here's a draft oped (attached and below)
re: assertions by Bush officials that an armed Predator was unavailable pre-9/11.

The basic point is that the technology was ready to go by late spring 2001 (NLT June), but
interagency squabbling over C2 and doctrine delayed fielding. Any "technical issues" that
officials cite as obstacles were not related to technology, but bureaucratic disagreements
over employment practices.

We'll see if I can get this piece placed anywhere...

V/R, Jon

Why Armed Drones Sat on the Ground
By Jon J. Rosenwasser

As the 9/11 Commission receives testimony over what could have been done to prevent the al
Qaeda attacks, the availability of one specific capability has received much attention:
the armed Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Predator has been a darling of the
global war on terrorism with its ability to perch over enemy targets and launch precision-
guided missiles. Top Bush administration officials emphatically state that the lethal
drone was not ready for deployment before the fall of 2001 because of "technical
challenges." Richard A. Clarke, the top counterterrorism official under three presidents,
instead accuses the white House of ill-advised delay.

In fact, the system was ready months before 9/11. However, the delayed deployment was a
product of wide-ranging bureaucratic infighting among the White House, Pentagon and CIA,
not the actions of any one individual. This reality points to a broader mandate for the
9/11 Commission: rethink the rigid institutional arrangements created in the 1947 National
Security Act.

UAVs have a long history, but sat on the U.S. military's margins for decades. Since the
1910s, the military experimented with them to collect intelligence and even drop bombs.
They experienced a renaissance in the late 1980s to reduce the risk to pilots, and by the
mid-1990s, the Predator was providing theater-level commanders with critical intelligence

Officials began pushing to arm Predator with missiles in 1999. Gen. John Jumper
(currently the Air Force's chief of staff) stiff-armed resistance from pilots who felt
threatened by UAVs and overruled war planners who preferred to use Predator only for
reconnaissance purposes. The Air Force began experiments in early 2000. President
Clinton's team - fixated on al Qaeda after the bombings of our embassies in Tanzania and
Kenya, a foiled millennium attack against Los Angeles International Airport, and the
bombing of the USS Cole - ordered testing be completed by the end of the year.

However, the process snagged for several months in fall 2000 as officials debated the
applicability of a Cold War relic, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. Signed by
President Reagan in 1987, the treaty banned certain unmanned weapon-delivery vehicles,
including armed UAVs. With the Soviet Union gone, the state of UAV technologies far
improved, and the specter of terrorism intensifying, the Clinton administration deemed an
armed Predator compliant with the treaty in December 2000.

The subsequent technical issues proved minimal. The Air Force's Big Safari office, known
for its innovative acquisition techniques, worked closely with Predator's manufacturer,
General Atomics, which was conveniently located in the district of Cong. John Lewis (R-
CA), head of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The Army integrated its
light-weight Hellfire missile into the Predator's airframe in a matter of weeks.

In tests in early 2001, the armed Predator had a kill-ratio exceeding 75 percent. With
such success, it was central to a plan developed by White House staff to go after al
Qaeda. If the order had been given, a few armed Predators could probably have been sent
to monitor and attack terrorist targets in Afghanistan by late spring 2001, to what effect
we'11 never know.

However, while the technology was ready, interagency squabbling between the Air Force and
CIA over organizational control and operational doctrine delayed action. The Air Force
was wary of engaging in a clandestine operation with an unproven asset, while the CIA
conceived the challenge as one of human intelligence, not technical means. A series of
operational questions also arose: Whose personnel would fly the system, choose the flight
pattern and select the targets? Who would pull the trigger, from what location, under
whose authorization? Would the CIA reimburse the Air Force if a Predator crashed?

For ideological and bureaucratic reasons, the Bush administration deferred a meeting among
its top officials to resolve these and other elements of a new counterterrorism strategy
until Sept. 4, one week before the fateful Sept. 11 attacks. Even then, the NSC failed to
broker the Air Force-CIA divide. In fact, it was only many weeks into the armed
Predator's subsequent deployment to Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom that such
issues were resolved.

This tortured history is one illustration of the need to imbue the national security
establishment with greater flexibility so that bureaucratic jockeying does not swallow up
needed innovations. Institutional inertia was tolerable during the stable, albeit tense,
Cold War era, but is inappropriate for this new dynamic threat environment. Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld has begun to shake up the system, but more durable changes to
underlying relationships are needed, for example, forging ties among CIA operatives,
entrepreneurial weapon acquisition professionals and un-doctrinaire war planners.

These are the kind of changes that should top the 9/11 Commission's agenda, not the
finger-pointing that may dominate during this campaign season.

Jon J. Rosenwasser is a Research Fellow at The Brookings Institution and was a
professional staff member for national security affairs on the U.S. Senate Budget
Committee from 1995 to 1999. He is author of the doctoral dissertation, "Governance
Structure and Weapon Innovation: the Case of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" (2004) .

Contact Information:

Jon J. Rosenwasser

9/11 Personal Privacy
Research Fellow
Thp Institution 9/11 Personal Privacy