Trump is reportedly giving the CIA back drone-strike authority, easing Pentagon drone warfare rules

This will be the first time an American court will hear a drone strike complaint.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In his second term, former President Barack Obama put a series of checks in place on the U.S. drone warfare program: moving authority to conduct strikes from the Central Intelligence Agency to the more transparent Defense Department, ordering that targeted individuals pose a "continuing and imminent threat" to U.S. personnel, giving the president final approval for killing or capturing high-value terrorism suspects, and requiring "near-certainty" that civilians wouldn't be killed in strikes outside active war zones, in places like Yemen and Somalia. President Trump has already given the CIA back drone-attack authority, U.S. officials tell The Wall Street Journal, and he's planning to relax the other rules, too, The Washington Post reports.

Trump told the CIA it could conduct drone strikes again soon after his inauguration, before CIA Director Mike Pompeo was confirmed, and the CIA has already used this authority, The Journal reports, including a February strike targeting senior al Qaeda leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masri in Syria and probably a strike on a Pakistan village earlier in March. The Pentagon must publicly report most of its drone strikes, including casualty estimates; the CIA does not. Under Obama, the CIA could use drones to find or monitor terrorism suspects, but the military had to fire the missiles.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.