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.


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.