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Published: Thu, March 16, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Donald Trump wants to make drone strikes easier to launch

Donald Trump wants to make drone strikes easier to launch

The lax checks on former U.S. President Barack Obama's drone war have become even worse as Donald Trump's administration has handed power over to the CIA to carry out the targeted strikes without White House approval, speeding up how quickly the intelligence agency can pull the trigger.

While the agency has had such authority in the past, the Obama administration, under pressure from human rights and civil liberties groups, gradually shifted control of the drone program from the CIA to the military over the past few years. The CIA would use drones and other intelligence tools to locate suspected terrorists and the military would carry out the strike.

The policy document said that "absent extraordinary circumstances", a drone strike on a high-value target will only be taken if there is "near certainty" no civilians will be killed, and said the United States should respect another nation's sovereignty in weighing drone strikes. The Pentagon had to report that publicly.

The White House is considering relaxing this standard, which now "demands near- certainty that no civilians are killed or injured in US raids or drone strikes outside conflict zones".

The move has not been confirmed by the Trump administration.

"But that decision on whether to strike or not to strike and that order should be coming from through the military chain of command", he added, the Journal reported.

Reports from Vice and others claim he might be transferring the power over his predecessor's drone program entirely to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - an institution plagued by scandal stemming from recent revelations regarding its highly unconstitutional spying methods. The Trump plans are also likely to relax the requirement that potential terror targets pose a "continuing and imminent threat" to USA personnel, officials said.

In July, the US government accepted responsibility for inadvertently killing up to 116 civilians in strikes in countries where America is not at war. The agency also doesn't need to report whether covert attacks cause civilian casualties. Or the White House could choose to waive the more stringent rules in certain geographical areas by declaring them active-combat zones for certain periods of time. Earlier this month, a US drone reportedly targeted two men in a village in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.

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