President Trump expands CIA drone powers

March 14, 2017 President Trump has secretly expanded the powers of the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct unmanned drone strikes against terrorists.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that President Trump authorized the CIA powers, citing an anonymous source. Since the CIA already ran a covert drone program in Pakistan and increasingly in Yemen during the Obama administration, it appears the Trump administration is expanding the agency’s reach.

The first U.S. unmanned drone strike took place in Pakistan in 2004, under President George W. Bush. Over the years, the popularity of drone strikes by the U.S. government and other countries has dramatically increased, and so has the controversy.

As U.S. drone strikes increased, the number of accidental civilian casualties turned a once receptive public against the high tech combat tool. The Drone Papers, leaked by Edward Snowden in October, 2015, evidenced the U.S. government under the Obama administration operated two drone programs, one publicly acknowledged and directed by the U.S. military, and one covertly directed by the CIA. The U.S. military drone program operated in declared war zones, like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The military also operates drones in undeclared war zones in Somalia and Yemen.

The CIA’s drone program operated primarily in Pakistan, and increasingly in Yemen. It was a CIA operated drone that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the American born Muslim cleric, who rose to the top of Al Qaeda’s ranks in 2011.

The CIA program is classified as covert, and the intelligence agency declines to provide any information to the public about where it operates, how it selects targets, who is in charge, or how many people have been killed.

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