Trump Gave CIA Power to Launch Drone Strikes

New authority departs from Obama-era policy under which only the Pentagon conducted the operations

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 Obama administration put the military in charge of pulling the trigger 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.
.. Mr. Trump’s action specifically applied to the CIA’s ability to operate in Syria, it means the agency eventually could become empowered under Mr. Trump to once again conduct covert strikes in other places where the U.S. is targeting militants in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere.
.. “The CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization—not a paramilitary one.”
.. Some members of Congress also resisted the effort to move drone operations into the sunlight.
.. Members of the intelligence committees, for example, generally favor a paramilitary CIA role, and believe they are best positioned to conduct oversight of secret operations, while members of the armed services committees argue the military should control the mission.
.. When it comes to vetting targets, the CIA uses a higher, or “near certainty,” standard, while the Defense Department relies on “reasonable certainty” in war zones, though it adheres to the higher standard when operating elsewhere.