08:20 GMT04 December 2020
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    Despite a 2013 tightening of US drone program rules in an effort to cut down on civilian deaths, President Barack Obama secretly granted the CIA more flexibility to conduct attacks in Pakistan, US media reported Monday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to the Wall Street Journal, Barack Obama obliged the CIA to confirm that militants targeted in Yemen and Somalia posed an “imminent threat” before carrying out drone strikes, but allowed the agency to waive the same requirement for strikes in Pakistan.

    If the "imminent threat" requirement had been extended to Pakistan, the CIA might have not launched a January 15 strike which killed US and Italian citizens held hostage by al-Qaeda militants, the newspaper reported.

    The killing of two Western hostages in a CIA drone strike on an al-Qaeda compound heightened scrutiny about the US counter-terrorism policy and the guidelines used to justify drone strikes.

    After announcing the deaths of Western hostages, Obama said that the strike that killed them was "fully consistent with the guidelines under which we conduct counter-terrorism efforts in the region."

    According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 2,440 and 3,949 combatants and between 423 and 962 civilians from 2004 to 2015.

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    Tags:
    Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), drones, drone strikes, Pakistan
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