Report: White House planning to let Pentagon carry out most CIA drone operations overseas
Report says the White House is planning to let the Pentagon carry out most of the CIA's drone operations overseas.
The report by the Stars and Stripe, the US military's news source, said on Sunday that the administration of US President Barack Obama wants to shift more of the CIA’s covert drone program to the Pentagon to be “even more transparent” about the “targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists.”
On Thursday, Obama promised to be more forthcoming with the American public on his administration's campaign of drone strikes.
"What I think is absolutely true is it's not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we're doing the right thing," Obama said in an online video question-and-answer session sponsored by Google.
He vowed to work with Congress to craft a "mechanism" to be more open about how the drone war is conducted.
Obama's nominee to lead the CIA, John Brennan, has also supported shifting most of the agency's secret drone operation to the Pentagon.
Brennan is the top White House adviser on the so-called war on terror. He is known as the architect of Washington’s drone operations.
It is, however, uncertain how much more transparency the Pentagon would provide than the CIA because Title 10, the US law that governs the military, operations may be kept secret but officials have the option of disclosing them.
On February 5, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended the administration’s use of assassination drones to kill people, even US citizens, inside the United States, saying such targeted assassinations are “legal, ethical and wise.”
“Sometimes we use remotely piloted aircraft to conduct targeted strikes against specific al-Qaeda terrorists in order to prevent attacks on the United States and to save American lives,” Carney said.
“We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats, to stop plots, to prevent future attacks and, again, save American lives. These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise,” he added.
A recently-leaked Justice Department memo offered justification for an increase in the number of drone strikes, including those aimed at US citizens, under the Obama administration in recent years.
“Targeting a member of an enemy force who poses an imminent threat of violent attack to the United States is not unlawful. It is a lawful act of self-defense,” reads the undated memo, titled Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a US Citizen who is a Senior Operational Leader of al-Qaeda or an Associated Force.
“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the document read.
The memo has come under fire by the American Civil Liberties Union, among other groups, for using executive authority to justify the killing of US citizens without a due process of the law.
Washington uses assassination drones in several countries, claiming that they target “terrorists.” According to witnesses, however, the attacks have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.