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Trump's Plans For Drone Strikes Involve Fewer Rules, More CIA

The Trump administration wants to roll back some of the restrictions President Obama imposed on the U.S. drone program.
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Trump's Plans For Drone Strikes Involve Fewer Rules, More CIA

The Trump administration is reportedly changing the rules for how the U.S. conducts drone warfare.

For starters, the Wall Street Journal reports the CIA is getting back its authority to conduct lethal drone strikes under Trump — a power previously reserved for the Pentagon.

Drone strikes used to be carried out by both the Department of Defense and the CIA, until the Obama administration shifted most of those responsibilities onto the military. The CIA could use drones to gather intelligence for a lethal strike, but the decision to fire a missile came from the Defense Department.

That matters because the military and the CIA operate under different rules. While the Pentagon publicly discloses information about each of its strikes, the CIA's covert operations are shielded from public view.

Other outlets are reporting that the White House is also working to roll back Obama-era guidelines on using drone force outside of active war zones. Future strikes might no longer need to have a "near certainty" that civilians will not be killed. And the White House might relax the requirement that targets must pose a "continuing and imminent threat" to the U.S.

The changes could give officials more flexibility to target terrorists. But they could also lead to more civilian deaths, which could decrease international willingness to cooperate with the U.S. on future strikes.