A daring prison break earlier this week during which Pakistani Taliban insurgents freed about 250 of their colleagues was meant to convey that the group is a major threat to national security despite losing swaths of territory, havens and strategic conduits in the northwest tribal areas during military counterterrorist operations this year.
Al Qaida activists with knowledge of the details of the raid said the Dera Ismail Khan prison in northwest Pakistan, reputedly one of the most secure in the country, was one of several high-profile targets that militants from the Taliban, whose formal name is Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, had selected during a nationwide intelligence gathering operation between January and March.
The list was drawn up prior to a Taliban offer of peace talks extended to the right-of-center Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party during campaigning before the May general election that the PML-N won, the activists said. The party’s leader, Nawaz Sharif, had said during his campaign that he would attempt to negotiate an end to the Taliban insurgency, which has cost Pakistan 48,000 lives and about $60 billion. But the Taliban feared that once Sharif was prime minister he would withdraw the offer under pressure from the military and the United States. The planned series of attacks was intended to apply pressure so that he would not, the activists said.
~ from Months of Planning Led to Pakistan Prison Break That Freed Scores of Terrorists by Tom Hussain ~
We have been told over and over again that the reason no significant changes should be made to the various NSA intelligence operations is that they are needed to thwart the activities of Al Qaida and yet a detailed plan put together over several months caught the US flat-footed. While I realize that no spying operation will have a perfect record, there have been several prison breaks conducted by Al Qaida over the past two weeks. If these intelligence programs are as effective as advertised, don't you think at least one prison break might have been stopped?
There is something else to consider as well. Here we had 200 well-armed freedom fighters or terrorists (it depends on a person's point of view) attacking a prison in Pakistan and yet no US drone strikes. This seems very odd to me. From numerous reports, drone operators tend to mount attacks often on flimsy suspicions -- people believed to be armed even when no weapons are seen -- and yet here we have a small army of men WITH guns and rocket launchers. Why didn't a drone try to take them out? If we can blow up people at a wedding, why can't we blow up people attacking a prison that holds "terrorists"?