On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that several U.S. officials stated that President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “secret new authority” to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists. The authority reverses policy implemented by former President Obama before he left office that limited the CIA’s paramilitary role.
The Obama administration allowed the CIA to use drones, but required the actual strike to be done by the military in a reported effort to increase transparency and accountability. The Trump administration is now allowing the CIA, who work covertly and are not required to disclose numbers of those suspected terrorists of civilians it kills with drone strikes, to conduct the strikes themselves.
President Trump has issued the authority to the CIA in an effort to accelerate the fight against ISIS. The CIA first used its authority in late February to take out senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, the officials said, according to the WSJ. The officials also said that the CIA’s authority to issue drone strikes was confined to Syria and it is unclear whether they would gain more authority in the future.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. officials said that the best example of the cooperation between the military and the CIA was the drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in May 2016. They also reported that spokesmen from the CIA and the Pentagon refused to comment.