Obama wants to transfer control of drones to Pentagon

US President Barack Obama to make push to hand control of drone programme to Pentagon from CIA after revealing it killed two civilians

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The United States President Barack Obama is expected to make a push to transfer the control of drone operations from Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to the Pentagon after admitting last week that two innocent hostages, one of which was a U.S. citizen, killed in drone strikes last January.Citing an unnamed senior administration official, CNN said, “He [President Obama] has indicated that he will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts. We continue to work diligently toward this goal,” regarding the drone program. President Obama had already ordered an internal review to the CIA’s drone operating procedures after announcing death of Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian citizen, last week. The two were killed in a CIA authorized drone strike, targeting a compound believed to belong to Al Qaeda on Afghanistan-Pakistan border in last January. In his quest, the president finds an unlikely ally, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain (R-AZ).“I think it should be conducted and oversight and administered by the Department of Defense,” McCain said regarding the drone program.President Obama had tried to shift control of the drone program from the CIA to Pentagon two years ago, however his efforts failed in the face of opposition from the Congress. However, the death of an innocent American reignited the debate about the use and control of the drones.“I think it was probably preventable, in that there was an obvious breakdown in intelligence. They didn't know that they were there,” McCain said blaming the CIA for the death of Weinstein and Lo Porto. A transfer of control of the drone programme to the Department of Defense would increase the transparency of the process of the use of the drones.“He believes very much in the need to be as transparent as possible on these matters with Congress as well as with the public,” then press secretary Jay Carney said when Obama first tried to take the program’s control from the CIA. President Obama has heavily relied on use of the drones in operations against Al Qaeda and other militant groups in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia since he became president in 2008.The programme has drawn criticism from human rights groups as many civilians got killed during the operations. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, in Pakistan alone, more than 250 civilians were killed in the U.S. drone strikes since 2009.

TRTWorld and agencies