US military may take over part of CIA drone war
By Dan De Luce, AFPWASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is looking at easing the secrecy around the drone war against al-Qaida by shifting control for some air strikes from the CIA to the U.S. military, officials say.
February 28, 2013, 12:04 am TWN
But the move would likely not apply to drone attacks in Pakistan, where most of the bombing raids take place.
And even if the policy change is carried out, Obama has no intention of abandoning a tactic that his advisers say has decimated the al-Qaida network.
Faced with growing calls in Congress for more oversight around the drone war, the administration is weighing the change partly to allay concerns from lawmakers and to put the air campaign on a more permanent legal footing, analysts said.
“There is serious consideration being given to moving some of these activities to” military control, a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
The administration believes the strikes are legal and effective but the change is “about transparency and the perceived legitimacy of the operations,” the official said.
If the military were to take charge of some drone raids, that would subject the operations to more public scrutiny as the armed forces must operate under stricter legal guidelines and answer inquiries at public hearings in Congress.
Until now, the “targeted killings” with armed drones in Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia have been carried out under the CIA's authority as officially designated “covert” attacks, which allow officials to deny their existence.
But the drone strikes have become an open secret, and lawmakers and rights advocates have demanded the administration discuss the open-ended campaign publicly.
“If it's no longer possible with a straight face to deny that we're conducting these operations, then it makes sense to bring at least some of them out into the open, where the oversight is easier to conduct,” said John Nagl, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank with close ties to the Obama administration.