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Trump gives CIA power to launch drone strikes: report

The Hill logo The Hill 13/03/2017 Rebecca Savransky

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The Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly been given the power under President Trump to launch drone strikes against suspected terrorists.

The new authority is a change from the Obama administration, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing U.S. officials.

Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones to find suspected terrorists. But the military then launched the strike.

That policy created more transparency, because the Pentagon is required to publicly report most airstrikes.

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The CIA's new authority, which was reportedly provided by Trump shortly after his inauguration, was used in February in a strike against a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.

Spokesmen for the Pentagon and CIA declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal.

U.S. officials said that the new authority under Trump was only for the CIA's operations in Syria. But according to the Wall Street Journal the CIA may be able to conduct drone strikes in other areas.

"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," said Christopher Anders, deputy director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He said that doesn't mean the CIA can't "have a role in assisting in the use of fore in location 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," he said.

"The CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization-not a paramilitary one," he said.

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