WASHINGTON: - The White House Thursday declined to comment on a report carried by a major American newspaper that President George W. Bush secretly approved U.S. military raids inside Pakistan against alleged terrorist targets without Islamabad's prior approval. "We have no comments," National Security spokesman Gordon Johndroe said when asked for his reaction to The New York Times story that Bush's move in July allowing Special Operations forces to carry out assaults within the borders of a key "war on terror" ally marked a turn for the Bush administration which has struggled with Islamabad over how to combat al-Qaeda and a resurgent Taliban. But current and former U.S. officials with recent access to the Bush administration's debate about how to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban inside the Pakistan's tribal areas Thursday confirmed The Times' report, according to an American news agency. The presidential order, first reported by the New York Times, was issued over the summer to give new authority to U.S. special operations forces to target suspected terrorists in the dangerous area along the Afghanistan border, a former intelligence official said. More recently, the administration secretly gave conventional ground troops new authority to pursue militants across the Afghan border into Pakistan, the former official said. The stepped-up campaign inside Pakistan comes at a time when American-Pakistani relations have been fraying, and when anger is increasing within American intelligence agencies about ties between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI, and militants in the tribal areas, according to The New York Times.