In Trump’s latest military development, the president has granted the CIA authority to conduct its own drone strikes without consulting the Pentagon, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. A month ago, Trump called on his military advisers to develop a “comprehensive strategy” to combat terrorist organizations in the Middle East, per the Independent. Covert operations conducted by the CIA are apparently the first step in eradicating ISIS, among other terror sects. The CIA’s new drone operations are currently limited to Syria.
According to the Wall Street Journal, spokespersons for the Pentagon, the CIA, and for the White House have all declined to make a comment. This could be considered common, as there has always been a rivalry between the CIA and the U.S. military. Regardless, a lack of communication between these entities is alarming. Chris Anders, the acting deputy director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that “the CIA should be a foreign intelligence gathering and analysis organization—not a paramilitary one.” Trump granting permission of authority on drone strikes to the CIA allows the agency to conduct itself outside of standard protocol and utilize military-grade equipment as they see fit.
The Wall Street Journal cited the Obama administration as liberal in its use of drone strikes but encouraged “transparency and accountability” by putting the military in charge of coordinating and executing the strikes. The CIA’s “secret authority” will shroud its employment of drone strikes in the Middle East.
The CIA, examined in another Inquisitr article, has a history pocked with black-ops and scandal; shadow actions like the Bay of Pigs invasion and MKUltra may come to mind. Accountability is everything when it comes to taking lives, as the U.S. government has already admitted to accidentally killing up to 116 civilians in drone strikes, per the Huffington Post. The CIA, with its newly granted powers, won’t adhere to the same standard of transparency, as the agency doesn’t disclose its operations to the public or to the departments within the military.
Trump’s grant of control over drone strikes to the CIA comes after a series of military actions taken by the president across Yemen. During his first week in office, Trump gave the green light for a SEAL team to raid an al-Qaeda compound in an effort to obtain intel and seize hard drives, reported the New York Times. The mission was compromised from the start, as an Osprey helicopter had a harsh landing and injured three American soldiers, and a SEAL member was shot and killed by al-Qaeda fighters. Despite the casualties, (including civilians) and a total lack of intel confiscation, Trump labeled the mission “a success.”
Following the SEAL raid, Trump deployed the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen, per CBS News. The destroyer has been tasked with patrolling the Gulf of Aden. The USS Cole is familiar with the Arabian Sea, as it was tasked with similar duties in 2000 when it was bombed by al-Qaeda insurgents. Now repaired and active, the destroyer is ready to rectify its bombing, which claimed the lives of 17 sailors.
With Trump’s focus on fighting terrorism in the Middle East, specifically Yemen, it’s likely that the CIA will begin their own operations within the war-torn nation. Yemen has been subjected to an onslaught from nearly every front: Iranian-backed Houthi rebels resist coalition and pro-government fighters with their back against the Red Sea, which keeps them well supplied. Government forces, on top of combating the rebels, suffer internal attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists.
Trump’s permission of drone usage by the CIA will very likely drum up bombings all across Yemen, as well as Syria, most of which will be conducted secretly. If civilians are killed, including children, there won’t be anyone to hold accountable. Perhaps this is Trump’s scapegoat, a way for him to push military action on terrorist organizations without having any potential failures being tied back to him and his cabinet.
Ultimately, the CIA shouldn’t be gifted such powers because they don’t adhere to any protocol- they operate unchecked with “secret authority.” Trump’s grant of control over drone strikes by the CIA could lead to a lot of innocent casualties that won’t ever see justice.
[Featured Image by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images]