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Trump Gives CIA Power to Use Drones to Bomb Suspected Terrorists

© AFP 2022 / Bonny SchoonakkerA US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile setting off from its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. File photo
A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile setting off from its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. File photo - Sputnik International
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On Monday, US President Donald Trump gave the CIA the green light to conduct drone strikes against suspected militants, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This new authority is a shift from a policy under former President Barack Obama that limited the CIA’s ability to engage in paramilitary activity, and may very well strain relations between the agency and the Pentagon. 

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, Virginia U.S. January 21, 2017 - Sputnik International
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As a part of Trump plan’s to ramp up the program to destroy Daesh, the agency first used it’s new secret power in late February, against a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, who was also the son-in-law of deceased al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Masri’s death was made public, but until recently it was not known that the CIA carried out the strike. The agency’s power only applies to Syria at this point, but it is likely that they will engage in similar actions in countries like Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and other nations where Washington is trying to snuff out militants.

According to US officials, Trump gave the CIA this new authority only a day after being inaugurated, before Mike Pompeo had been confirmed as CIA director. The military will also be able to carry out missions without approval from the Pentagon and White House. 

This photo released on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French army Rafale fighter jets flying towards Syria as part of France's Operation Chammal launched in September 2015 in support of the US-led coalition against Islamic State group - Sputnik International
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Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU’s Washington office said,  "There are a lot of problems with the drone program and the targeted killing program, but the CIA should be out of the business of ordering lethal strikes," explaining that Pentagon approval for strikes increases accountability.

He added, "It does not mean the CIA cannot have a role in assisting in the use of force in locating targets, but that decision on whether to strike or not to strike and that order should be coming from through the military chain of command…The CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization, not a paramilitary one."

Obama advocated for the Defense Department to conduct drone strikes in 2013, amid pressure from the ACLU and other human and civil liberties groups, but was met with opposition in Congress.

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