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Donald Trump gives Central Intelligence Agency authority to carry out drone strikes

Donald Trump gives Central Intelligence Agency authority to carry out drone strikes

There was no immediate comment from the White House, CIA or the Pentagon on the Journal report, which said that it was under this new authority that the CIA carried out a drone strike in Syria late last month, killing senior Al Qaeda leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masiri while he was travelling in a vehicle.

The CIA doesn't have full drone strike authority as of yet, for the report states that the agency will only conduct drone strikes in Syria for now, but this opens the door to expanded use.

The CIA used to only allowed to operate drones for surveillance purposes and, in the event that suspected terrorists were located, agency officials would alert the Pentagon who would then conduct the actual strike. The Pentagon, however, must publicly report most airstrikes.

At the same time, in contrast with Obama who was involved in the decision-making process on the drone strikes, Trump seems to be willing to delegate all the responsibility for making these decisions to the Central Intelligence Agency, which, Calhoun believes, is "very unfortunate". This may already be happening.

Trump's previously undisclosed decision specifically extends CIA's drone operations in Syria, but officials speculated that the move will eventually also include other countries with ties to terrorism, such as Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

The CIA's restored authority to launch strikes would no longer require the U.S.to disclose its strikes or number of civilians killed.

The aerial attacks, initiated by former US President George W. Bush in 2004, were escalated under the Obama administration. While the Pentagon's reports often grossly underestimate the death toll, that they offer figures at all was a change from the early CIA-centric drone war. US officials are still assessing results of the strike.

"The CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization-not a paramilitary one, " Christopher Anders, deputy director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Wall Street Journal.

The White House is also weighing whether to relax or drop the current standard on civilian casualties, which demands near certainty that no civilians are killed or injured in USA raids or drone strikes outside of conflict zones.

During his presidential campaign, Trump said that he would continue drone use against terrorist targets and even their families.

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