Sources say Trump secretly broadened the CIA's power to launch drone attacks



The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that President Trump expanded the CIA's power, giving it the authority to launch drone strikes in Syria and possibly beyond, according to inside sources.

Previously, the agency's drone activity was limited to surveillance and offering advice on targets. The actual strikes were under the sole purview of the U.S. military.

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Notably, the two divisions have widely varying rules regarding disclosure, the Wall Street Journal noted.

The CIA is not obligated to reveal drone-related information, while the armed forces are duty-bound to report all engagements of missile-carrying unmanned aircraft.

There is concern mounting that the move, which was reportedly made around the end of January, will create further tensions between intelligence and military divisions.

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Drones being used in war
A U.S. airman guides a U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone as it taxis to the runway at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. To match Exclusive AFGHANISTAN-DRONES/ REUTERS/Josh Smith/File photo
A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone flies over Creech Air Force Base in Nevada during a training mission May 19, 2016. Picture taken May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Josh Smith
U.S. airmen control a U.S. Air Force drone from a command trailer at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. Picture taken March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Josh Smith
Three 500-pound bombs wait to be loaded on U.S. Air Force drones at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. To match Exclusive AFGHANISTAN-DRONES/ REUTERS/Josh Smith/File Photo
A U.S. airman controls the sensors on a U.S. Air Force drone from a command trailer at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. To match Exclusive AFGHANISTAN-DRONES/ REUTERS/Josh Smith/File Photo
A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone sits armed with Hellfire missiles and a 500-pound bomb in a hanger at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. To match Exclusive AFGHANISTAN-DRONES/ REUTERS/Josh Smith/File Photo TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Air Force ground crew secure weapons and other components of an MQ-9 Reaper drone after it returned from a mission, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. To match Exclusive AFGHANISTAN-DRONES/ REUTERS/Josh Smith/File photo
A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone takes off from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan March 9, 2016. To match Exclusive AFGHANISTAN-DRONES/ REUTERS/Josh Smith/File Photo
A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa November 13, 2014. Yemeni authorities have paid out tens of thousands of dollars to victims of drone strikes using U.S.-supplied funds, a source close to Yemen's presidency said, echoing accounts by legal sources and a family that lost two members in a 2012 raid. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Various U.S. military drones are seen at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington September 1, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
The Navmar Applied Sciences Corp. TigerShark is escorted off the runway after landing during "Black Dart", a live-fly, live fire demonstration of 55 unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, at Naval Base Ventura County Sea Range, Point Mugu, near Oxnard, California July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon
Soldiers stand behind of a camera by Unmanned Aerial System 'Shadow' during an official presentation by the German and U.S. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) at the U.S. military base in Vilseck-Grafenwoehr October 8, 2013. The drone has a wing-spread of 6.90 metre, an aircraft speed of about 177 km/h and it's mainly used in Afghanistan. Picture taken October 8. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle (GERMANYMILITARY - Tags: POLITICS) MILITARY)
People gather near the wreckage of a car destroyed by a U.S. drone air strike that targeted suspected al Qaeda militants in August 2012, in the al-Qatn district of the southeastern Yemeni province of Hadhramout February 5, 2013. U.S. drones have launched almost daily raids on suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen during the past two weeks, and air strikes have aggravated discontent among Yemenis, who say the strikes pose a threat to civilians. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY SOCIETY)
An X-47B pilot-less drone combat aircraft is launched for the first time off an aircraft carrier, the USS George H. W. Bush, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, May 14, 2013. The U.S. Navy made aviation history on Tuesday by catapulting an unmanned jet off an aircraft carrier for the first time, testing a long-range, stealthy, bat-winged plane that represents a jump forward in drone technology. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A U.S. Navy serviceman (L) prepares to launch an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with Philippine Navy servicemen aboard a patrol boat during a joint annual military exercise called "Carat" at former U.S. military base Sangley Point in Cavite city, west of Manila June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Erik De Castro (PHILIPPINES - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Paxton Force, of Fox Co, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines Regiment checks T-Hawk, a surveillance drone camera at the Landing Zone of Combat Outpost Musa Qal-Ah in Helmand province, southwestern Afghanistan November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Erik De Castro (AFGHANISTAN - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)
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The Journal also reports that broadening of the CIA's authority could prove detrimental to Trump's call for greater aggression in the fight against ISIS, as the agency operates under a more stringent target-vetting standard.

Since taking office, President Trump has sought to dissolve a number of the protections on combat drone use established by Obama, the Washington Post reported.

Efforts in the works include lowering the bar for reasonable civilian loss and allowing the military to perform strikes without White House oversight.

When Obama put such rules in place, he did so to lessen "the potential for abuse" by subsequent leaders.

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