President Donald Trump speaks at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It Does Not Sound Like Donald Trump Really Hates the CIA

The media narrative is that President Trump is in an ongoing war with the intelligence community and there is major mutual distrust. Keep that media narrative in mind when you learn that President Trump just broadened the CIA’s powers to use drones to kill bad guys without the Pentagon taking over.

Under President Obama, the CIA might root out the bad guys, but they’d pass off the killing to the Pentagon. President Trump has undone that and is now letting the CIA kill the bad guys it finds.

The new authority, which hadn’t been previously disclosed, represents a significant departure from a cooperative approach that had become standard practice by the end of former President Barack Obama’s tenure: The CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike. The U.S. drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in May 2016 in Pakistan was the best example of that hybrid approach, U.S. officials said.

The Obama administration put the military in charge of pulling the trigger to promote transparency and accountability. The CIA, which operates under covert authorities, wasn’t required to disclose the number of suspected terrorists or civilian bystanders it killed in drone strikes. The Pentagon, however, must publicly report most airstrikes.

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Erick Erickson

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