President Trump has allowed CIA to resume its drone strikes on suspected terrorists, “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,” The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
How the system was working when Obama left office: “The CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike.”
The idea there, the Journal writes, was “to promote transparency and accountability. The CIA, which operates under covert authorities, wasn’t required to disclose the number of suspected terrorists or civilian bystanders it killed in drone strikes. The Pentagon, however, must publicly report most airstrikes.”
The CIA wasted little time, using “its new authority in late February in a strike on a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, U.S. officials said. The strike in northern Syria on Mr. Masri, a son-in-law of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, had been reported, but it wasn’t previously known that the CIA had carried it out under the new authority. U.S. officials are still assessing results of the strike.”
Adds the Journal, “Syria may not be the only place where the CIA is now authorized to conduct drone strikes. Earlier this month, a U.S. drone reportedly targeted two men in a village in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. The Defense Department didn’t acknowledge conducting the operation, as it typically would.” Read the rest, here.