WASHINGTON – 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. 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 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.
Donald Trump's presidency got off to a bloody start in January, when a special operations forces raid against al-Qaeda in Yemen killed numerous civilians and a US Navy SEAL. The raid was a disaster, but it did not deter the US from launching more attacks using drones and other weapons platforms. In one week earlier this month, the Trump administration conducted about 40 strikes in Yemen, including 25 on a single day. Added to that, there was a drone attack in Pakistan, the first in the country since May 2016. Barack Obama was much criticised for his dramatic escalation of drone strikes in non-battlefield settings such as Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.
WASHINGTON – The White House said Tuesday that no American citizen "will ever be targeted" in raids against terror suspects, a blanket statement that appeared to signal a break from the Obama administration's strategy for pursuing and targeting suspects in counterterrorism operations overseas. Under former President Barack Obama, the Justice Department had issued a legal opinion giving the U.S. the authority to target Americans who are working with terrorists abroad. White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters the Trump administration will lean on the guidance of Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, but he added that "no American citizen will ever be targeted." It was not immediately clear whether Spicer's intended to recalibrate U.S. policy. The U.S. specifically targeted and killed American Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric, in Yemen in 2011.
US President Donald Trump is seeking to loosen some Obama-era limits on drone strikes and ground raids outside conventional war-zones, US media reports have said. The New York Times, citing unnamed officials, reported on Thursday that Trump's top national security advisers have proposed relaxing two rules from administration of Barack Obama, the former US president. The officials said the targets of kill missions by the military and the CIA would be expanded to include foot-soldier fighters with no special skills or leadership roles. The officials added that proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting. The New York Times report comes after NBC News published a story on Monday about the Trump administration contemplating policy changes that will further expand the CIA's authority to conduct drone strikes in a number of countries, both in and out of war-zones.
WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing U.S. 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 newspaper reported. The White House, the U.S. 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 Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.