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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 29th, 2013
07:08 PM ET

Did drone rules change anything for Pakistan strike?

Just six days after President Barack Obama laid out new guidelines for U.S. drone strikes, the Pakistani Taliban's number two, Wali-Ur Rehman Mehsud, was killed by a drone strike. Rehman was wanted by the U.S. for possible involvement in a 2009 suicide bombing that killed seven CIA employees at a base in Afghanistan. The White House would not confirm his death.

The new White House guidelines for drone strikes include a legal basis for using lethal force; the target poses a continuing imminent threat to U.S. persons; near certainty the target is present; near certainty non-combatants will not be injured or killed; capture of target is not an option; target country cannot or will not address the threat themselves; and the attack respects national sovereignty and international law.

But those guidelines apply to strikes the White House describes as outside areas of continuing hostilities, said Mark Mazzetti, national security correspondent for The New York Times, and author of "The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth."

"Pakistan they consider an area of continuing hostility because it's part of ... the Afghan theater," said Mazzetti.

In other words, Obama's new guidelines do not apply to Pakistan.

"Basically, the rules in Pakistan are as they were, where the CIA is running the drone wars, and where there are lower standards for the strikes than there are in other parts of the world," said Mazzetti.

Other countries, such as Yemen, will fall under the new drone rules.

More controversial are the signature strikes by drones. Signature strikes are carried out after an analysis of patterns of activity, which could show, for example, a group of Pakistani militants crossing over the border into Afghanistan.

"They don't have to specifically know who it is on the ground that they are targeting," said Mazzetti. "It's become clear that, again, as long as American troops are in Afghanistan, President Obama is not going to do away with signature strikes."

"These lower standards than exist in other parts of the world, are going to continue," said Mazzetti.

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