Report: Trump Has Given The CIA Powers To Conduct Secret Drone Strikes Against Terrorists

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A new Wall Street Journal report says Donald Trump has given a green light to the CIA to administer drone strikes on possible terrorists. This order would differ from the Obama administration’s policy on drones, which used the CIA to locate suspected terrorists while the military conducted the strikes:

The new authority, which hadn’t been previously disclosed, represents a significant departure from a cooperative approach that had become standard practice by the end of former President Barack Obama’s tenure: The CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike. The U.S. drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in May 2016 in Pakistan was the best example of that hybrid approach, U.S. officials said.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Obama used this structure to provide more transparency, so if true, Trump’s new strategy would eliminate that benefit.

The CIA doesn’t have full drone strike authority as of yet, for the report states that the agency will only conduct drone strikes in Syria for now, but this opens the door to expanded use. Christopher Anders, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties D.C. office, believes that Trump is making a dangerous move:

“There are a lot of problems with the drone program and the targeted killing program, but the CIA should be out of the business of ordering lethal strikes, But that decision on whether to strike or not to strike and that order should be coming from through the military chain of command. The CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization — not a paramilitary one.”

Even President Obama had to defend the use of drone strikes, which became one of the more heavily criticized parts of his administration. If this story is true, Trump’s opening the door to the same sort of criticism.

(Via The Wall Street Journal & The Hill)