For those who thought PBO had a bad drone policy, think again because POTUS 45* cranked up drone policy in the endless Global War on Terror (GWOT).
Only the idiots at Fox News would spin it as a “complete 180-degree turn” in policy, done “quietly” to avoid accountability for new rounds of targeted killing.
The 21 January visit was more stage management of the new regime trying to cheer-lead an upcoming failed raid in Yemen, and was bad optics regardless.His January appearance before the wall at CIA HQ was intended to reference the closing scene of a Michael Bay film as some weird “repeal and replace” GOP meme that turned into another Trumpian ribbon-cutting photo-op.
POTUS45* tried to reference the GOP Benghazi meme and the closing scene in the Michael Bay 13 Hours, featured prominently in the GOP primary with a free screening in Iowa.
We know how POTUS45* “screwed the pooch” not only in the Yemen raid but by willfully trying to manipulate the agency in the matter of intelligence community revelations on Russian involvement in the current administration #Russiagate.
Now the CIA has greater authority to conduct targeted military killing as personality or signature strikes.
Even as US ground troops may experience another deployment soon in whatever “terrorist” action will distract from #TrumpRussia and Biglygate, drone policy has now moved to more covert military applications by the CIA.
The CIA has reportedly been given the power by President Trump to launch drone strikes against suspected terrorists.
The new authority is a change in drone policy from the Obama administration, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday citing U.S. officials.
Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones to find suspected terrorists. But the military then launched the strikes.
That policy lent itself to more transparency, because the Pentagon is required to publicly report most airstrikes.
The CIA’s new authority, which was reportedly provided by Trump shortly after his inauguration, was used in February in a strike against a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri.
The first is called a “personality” strike. These strikes target known terrorists, whose identities have been firmly established through intelligence, including visual surveillance and electronic and human intelligence. In other words, the CIA knows who it is killing.
In so-called “signature” strikes, intelligence officers and drone operators kill suspects based on their patterns of behavior — but without positive identification. With signature strikes, the CIA doesn’t necessarily know who it is killing. One former senior intelligence official said that at the height of the drone program in Pakistan in 2009 and 2010, as many as half of the strikes were classified as signature strikes.
Analysts use a variety of intelligence methods and technologies that they say give them reasonable certainty that the “signature” target is a terrorist. Part of the analysis involves crunching data to make connections between the unidentified suspects and other known terrorists and militants. The agency can watch, for example, as an unknown person frequents places, meets individuals, makes phone calls, and sends emails, and then match those against other people linked to the same calls, emails and meetings.
A half dozen former and current U.S. counter-terrorism officials told NBC News that signature strikes do generally kill combatants, but acknowledge that intelligence officials doesn’t always know who those combatants are. Some of the officials said the moral and legal aspects of the signature strikes were often discussed, but without any significant change in policy.
So what else could be done with this data? As mentioned before, Pitch Interactive did an impressive job in visualizing the outrageously large number of civilian casualties caused by drone strikes. The data frame produced with the code presented in this post is not yet ready to fully analyze civilian casualties in a similar way, since the data in the civilian casualties column is not yet cleaned (there are entries like “possibly” which would need to be removed). I plan to include that in future versions.
Since the API provides data on drone strikes in near real time, this could also be used to hold President Obama accountable to his promise of reducing drone strikes. Both graphs (number of strikes and casualties) provided above should flatten after May/June 2013. So, we’ll check back in 6 months to see whether that promise was actually true.