Friday, September 17, 2021

Trump gives CIA authority to carry out drone strikes, WSJ says

US President Donald J. Trump (C) shows an executive order entitled, ‘Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch’, after signing it beside members of his Cabinet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 13 March 2017. EFE

New York, USA, Mar 13 (EFE).- The president of the United States has given the Central Intelligence Agency the authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, a role previously assigned exclusively to the Pentagon, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

According to unidentified official sources cited by the newspaper, Donald Trump’s decision is a change from the policy implemented by former President Barack Obama, who limited the paramilitary role of the CIA.

During Obama’s administration, CIA drones were used to carry out reconnaissance and collect intelligence to locate suspected terrorists, but attacks were then carried out by the military.

The drone strike that killed Taliban leader Ajtar Mansurin May 2016 in Pakistan “was the best example of that hybrid approach” by the CIA and the Pentagon, the newspaper said.

A Yemeni man walks past graffiti showing a US drone after al-Qaeda in Yemen confirmed the death of its leader in US drone strike, in Sana’a, Yemen, 16 June 2015. The leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Nasir al-Wuhayshi, has been killed in a drone strike on 12 June in Mukalla in Yemen, the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda confirmed on 16 June. Al-Wuhayshi was second-in-command of global terrorist network al-Qaeda after Ayman al-Zawahiri and was on a US list of most-wanted fugitives for planning attacks on United States soil. EFE

By the end of his tenure, Obama managed to implement a set of rules that allowed only the Pentagon to carry out strikes in order to ensure transparency.

The sources said the CIA first used its new authority to carry out drone strikes in late February in an attack in northern Syria, which killed al-Qaeda leader Abu al-Jair al-Masri, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law.

Al-Qaeda confirmed on Mar. 2 that al-Masri was killed by a unmanned drone.

Officials said Trump’s new order specifically applies to CIA operations in Syria, but it could eventually be extended to other operations against terrorists in other countries like Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

Sources told the newspaper that the orders were given to the CIA by Trump shortly after his meeting with intelligence officials at CIA headquarters on Jan. 21, the day after he was inaugurated as president.