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Obama rumored to shift CIA drone program to military

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drone (public domain)
drone (public domain)

The Daily Beast's Daniel Klaidman reports that the Obama White House is preparing to okay a move which would essentially take the CIA's drone program and put it under the control of the Department of Defense. The two programs would be merged, but the CIA would still play a role in targeting drone strikes. In that sense, the change may not be a broad overhaul, but rather more of a legal tweak: taking strikes currently under United States Code Title 50, which covers covert activity, and placing them under Title 10, which governs military action.

The Beast reports that joint operations between the two agencies would be run by the Joint Special Operations Command. That's the same organization that oversees the likes of the secretive Delta Force and Navy SEAL programs — which also begs the question of whether this change will actually improve transparency. "Moving lethal drone operations exclusively to DoD might bring benefits," Jack Goldsmith, a Bush administration Justice Department official, told the Beast. "But DoD's lethal operations are no less secretive than the CIA's, and congressional oversight of DoD ops is significantly weaker."

"Barack Obama has got to be concerned about his legacy."

While it's not entirely certain at this point if the transition will indeed move forward, it has reportedly been in the works for over a year. With drone programs becoming part of an increasingly-mainstream conversation, it's apparent that the White House feels compelled to make some type of change. "Barack Obama has got to be concerned about his legacy," the Beast quotes one former advisor. "He doesn't want drones to become his Guantánamo."