The US plans to transfer control of some of its assassination drone-strike operations from the CIA spy agency to the military in bid to ease the controversy over the secrecy of its targeted-killing campaign.
However, the expected move would not likely include the American terror drone attacks in Pakistan, where most of the aerial missile raids have so far taken place, AFP reports Wednesday, citing unnamed Obama administration officials.
While the report insists that US President Barack Obama has “no intention of abandoning” his administration’s targeted killing operations in Muslim countries overseas, the shift reflects growing calls in the US Congress for more oversight over the secret assassination campaign, purportedly targeting assumed “enemies of America,” and placing it “on a more permanent legal footing.”
“There is serious consideration being given to moving some of these activities to” military control, the report adds, quoting “a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity,” noting that the Obama administration still believes that the terror strikes are “legal and effective.”
The change, however, is “about transparency and the perceived legitimacy of the operations,” the official is further quoted as saying.
Military leaders favor the potential shift that has been “debated for months” within the administration and say it is time for the CIA “to stop running a large-scale air war against Al-Qaeda and instead focus on its main job of gathering intelligence,” the report adds, citing another official .
The change would likely apply to terror drone attacks in Yemen, where the ruling US-sponsored government publicly acknowledges American involvement in the growing assassination campaign against what Yemeni rulers claim as al-Qaeda elements.
Out of the nearly 420 terror-drone strikes remotely conducted in Pakistan and Yemen by American pilots, based in the US and its military installations in various African and Middle Eastern countries, since 2004, over 350 have taken place in Pakistan, according to a tally kept by the independent New America Foundation.
The development comes as Obama’s nominee to head the CIA spy agency, John Brennan, has been widely identified as the chief architect of the assassination drone strikes.
While reports say that most of the thousands of US terror-drone strikes have been civilians, including women and children, Brennan has adamantly denied any major civilian casualties in the American targeted killing campaign.