Now it is clear that the drones have been authorised to launch their lethal Hellfire missiles.
Although the Pentagon has remained silent on the subject, the evidence from Pakistan and Syria is that the Bush administration has given carte blanche to the military to exploit its technology advantage and deploy not just drones, but Hellfire missiles, against insurgents seeking to take refuge in frontier safe-havens.
In Iraq the Coalition has been handicapped by its inability to cross borders in hot pursuit of terrorists who can base themselves under the protection of a neighbouring country, such as Syria and Iran.
Now it is clear that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, such as the Predator, long in the skies as a surveillance platform, have been authorised to launch their lethal Hellfire missiles.
This unpublicised change in policy, a truly generous act from an outgoing administration to its successor, means that remote operators based in Florida can act on the intelligence that has been accumulated over the past to years.
An extensive digital mapping project has provided the U.S. military planners and analysts with the most detailed view of a featureless terrain that hitherto has been left alone by cartographers.
Now every tiny hovel has been assigned a coordinate and the order has been given to take the conflict into the denied areas of the Syrian border and the bandit country of Waziristan.
Of course, this dramatic shift in policy is a blatant infringement of sovereignty, but Damascus and Islamabad are powerless to stop the UAV flights, and public protests only open their regimes to public ridicule.
In the Cold War, Moscow was in a similar position as it monitored the U-2 overflights, but was impotent to bring down the high altitude aircraft. That strategy changed on 1 May 1960 when a CIA pilot, F. Gary Powers, was shot out of the sky, but the risk of the embarrassment of pilot capture simply does not enter the equation when unmanned drones are deployed.