Pakistan airstrike caps off deadly period for US drone operations

More than 30 terror suspects have been killed in a series of American drone strikes since Jan. 2, according to recent news reports. Most of the drone strikes have been focused on the restive tribal areas that straddle the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. 

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Thursday's strike took out a suspected safe house in the North Waziristan town of Miranshah, a well-known Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold, Pakistani security officials told Agence France Presse

“A U.S. drone fired four missiles. At least four militants have been killed, the compound was completely destroyed," according to one security official. However, security officials could not confirm the identities of the suspects killed in the attack. 

An American drone strike in the Angoor Agga area of South Waziristan killed six suspected terrorists on Jan. 2, the first unmanned airstrike of 2013. 

A day after the attack, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little would not confirm reports that Taliban chieftain Maulvi Nazir was among the militants killed during the Angoor Agga strike. 

However, Little did note that Nazir had "a great deal of blood on his hands" due to his activities in the Pakistani tribal areas that straddle eastern Afghanistan. His death, if confirmed, would be a serious blow to the Taliban and other militant networks operating in the region, he said.

"Anytime a bad guy has a bad day, it is a good day for us," Little added. 

Meanwhile, tensions on Capitol Hill continue to rise over the Obama administration's candidate to become the nation's top spy. 

White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan was picked to replace former Gen. David Petraeus as the head of CIA. Brennan's nomination, announced by President Obama on Monday, brought the administration's increasingly aggressive use of armed drone strikes back into the spotlight. 

Under his watch, Brennan helped shape the White House's counterterrorism strategy, which focused on the increased use of armed drone strikes against suspected terror targets across the globe. He also played a central planning role in the U.S. special operations raid in May 2011 that ended with the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

However, his primary role in crafting the agency's use drone attacks, as well as the of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terror detainees prompted Brennan to turn down the CIA nomination from the White House back in 2008. 

At the time, the longtime CIA senior officer had been tapped to replace then-agency director and George W. Bush appointee Gen. Michael Hayden.

But his participation in both efforts would be an insurmountable hurdle during the Senate confirmation process.

Panetta ended up replacing Hayden at Langley, with Brennan becoming the White House’s Deputy national security adviser and the administration's top counterterrorism official.