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Trump Broadens CIA Powers, Allows Deadly Drone Strikes


The Wall Street Journal
100 d ago

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President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency secret new authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, U.S. officials said, changing the Obama administration’s policy of limiting the spy agency’s paramilitary role and reopening a turf war between the agency and the Pentagon.
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President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing US officials.
The move would be a change from the policy of former President Barack Obama's administration of limiting the CIA's paramilitary role, The Wall Street Journal reported .
The White House, the US Department of Defense and the CIA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Obama had sought to influence global guidelines for the use of drone strikes as other nations began pursuing their own drone programs.
The United States was the first to use unmanned aircraft fitted with missiles to kill militant suspects in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
Strikes by missile-armed Predator and Reaper drones against oversea targets began under former President George W. Bush and were expanded by Obama.
Critics of the targeted killing program question whether the strikes create more militants than they kill. They cite the spread of jihadist organizations and militant attacks throughout the world as evidence that targeted killings may be exacerbating the problem.
In July, the US government accepted responsibility for inadvertently killing up to 116 civilians in strikes in countries where America is not at war.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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President Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants.
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Motherboard
100 d ago
The CIA Can Now Order Drone Strikes Without Pentagon Approval
Last November, Motherboard asked how President Trump would handle the legacy of his predecessor's drone program. Much was unclear, but four months later, we have our answer: America's remote killing strategy is only intensifying.
Trump has given unprecedented power to the CIA to expand its killing program and launch drone strikes against targets, drone strikes that have no legal obligation for public disclosure and do not require the the approval of the Pentagon.
Dan Gettinger, co-director at the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, told Motherboard in an email that Trump's decision repeals a central restriction placed on the targeted killing program by the Obama administration.
In a distinct change to Obama's policies, which allowed the CIA to hunt and surveil suspected terror targets but required the permission of the military to physically launch a missile strike, The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump has given the CIA authority to pull the trigger on its own strikes. This decision came shortly after his inauguration, and has already been used in a strike against al Qaeda deputy Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in February, the newspaper reports.
"Although the CIA never abandoned its role in drone strikes, the agency will now have greater freedom to carry out strikes on its own," Gettinger said. "In the coming months, we are likely to see a further redefinition of the targeted killing program by the Trump administration."
The unnamed US officials speaking to the Journal said that the new authority the CIA possesses can only be used for operations in Syria, but there are fears the CIA could easily expand its remit to outside of the country.
Obama's decision to allow the military to preside over the final call on drone strikes, rather than the CIA, promoted heightened transparency and public disclosure on America's drone operations. The CIA can now kill at will, unaffected by the need for public disclosure.
The revelation comes as US officials admit the Trump administration has almost put the finishing touches on a drone strike review that lowers the threshold on acceptable civilian casualties injured or killed in a drone strike, according to The Washington Post . The review goes back on policies Obama introduced, and could give the Pentagon permission to launch its own strikes without the approval from the White House.
It was previously unclear how Trump would wage his war against terror, but it is now obvious that the drone strike complex initiated by Bush, propelled by Obama, and now inherited by Trump continues to expand along the same trajectory.
Update: this story has been updated with comment from Dan Gettinger.
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