Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Trump gives Central Intelligence Agency power to launch drone strikes

Trump gives Central Intelligence Agency power to launch drone strikes

Last week, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the Department of Defense preferred not to coordinate with the White House on every planned operation to strike terrorists.

The CIA can now kill potential terror suspects with drone strikes after being granted new powers by President Donald Trump, according to a new report. The Pentagon, however, must publicly report most airstrikes. This may already be happening. This would represent a major change in the way the US approaches drone strikes, as well as other targeted operations. While the Central Intelligence Agency under Obama was by no means "handcuffed", as journalist Jeremy Scahill put it, the former president tried to keep covert operations limited to the Department of Defense's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) unit.

The CIA has reportedly been given the power by President Trump to launch drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

The return to drone assassinations by the United States intelligence agency is part of a broader turn by the Trump administration toward jettisoning cosmetic restrictions imposed by Obama during his second term. During Obama's two terms, a total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen compared to 57 strikes under George W. Bush, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. And because the CIA operates covertly, or in the shadows, the Wall Street Journal suggests that giving the agency more blanket powers will lead to less accountability.

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In July, the U.S. government accepted responsibility for inadvertently killing up to 116 civilians in strikes in countries where America is not at war. What's very clear from the Post is that these unnamed sources they're using seem to want this decentralization to happen and allow military officials to decide more frequently on their own when to use drones to kill.

Senior U.S. officials said current proposals being circulated in the White House would in some instances lower the requirement to a "reasonable certainty" that no civilians would be killed or injured in a strike, which is essentially the standard that the U.S. military has followed in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

As part of the move to waive such restrictions, Trump has signed off on a request to designate three provinces of Yemen as "areas of active hostilities", i.e., free-fire zones, where the rules on civilian deaths do not apply.

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