U.S President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) new authority to launch drone strikes against suspected insurgents, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday.
The move would be a change from the policy of former U.S President Barack Obama’s administration of limiting the CIA’s paramilitary role, the newspaper reported, citing a U.S official.
The new authority represents a strong shift from the standard practice to date which was that the CIA could deploy drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists where-after the military would conduct the actual strike.
Under the new authority, the CIA would not require permission from the Pentagon or even the White House before launching a drone strike for a targeted killing mission.
However, the White House, the U.S Department of Defense and the CIA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
U.S was the first to use unmanned aircraft fitted with missiles to kill the suspect’s insurgents in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on United States.
Strikes by missile-armed Predator and Reaper drones against oversea targets began under former President George W. Bush and were expanded by Obama.
Critics of the targeted killing program question whether the strikes create more militants than they kill. They cite the spread of jihadist organizations and insurgent’s attacks throughout the world as evidence that targeted killings may be exacerbating the problem.
In July, the U.S government accepted responsibility for inadvertently killing up to 116 civilians in strikes in countries where America is not at war.