Print 23 comment(s) - last by BRB29.. on May 30 at 9:12 AM

Lawmakers are divided on whether transfer will improve reliability

As promised in his speech this week, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is largely assuming control of the embattled unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) combat operations in the Middle East.  The program had been run over the past several years by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and was responsible for death strikes on four Americans, only one of which was an intended target for death.

I. DoD Takes the Reins

Under the new plan the DoD will take over the robotic warfare operations in the twelfth year of the nation's "war" on the Islamic militant organization known as al-Qaeda in the Middle East.  The CIA will, meanwhile, refocus on its original objective of foreign intelligence gathering.

In his speech President Barack Hussein Obama likened drone death strikes on Americans involved in "terrorism" as similar to bullets from a SWAT team sniper.  He remarked, "When a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America – and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens; and when neither the United States, nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot – his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a swat team."

In a post-speech briefing, a senior official told reporters, "There’s an indication of a preference for the Department of Defense to engage in the use of force outside of war zones."

Predator missile
The "preference" is the DoD to take the lead in drone killings. [Image Source: Drone Wars UK]

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a former Democratic senator, commented, "The president today presented a comprehensive vision for how we will continue to protect the nation from terrorism, especially from al-Qaida and its affiliates, while remaining true to our values and laws.  I have directed the Department of Defense to work closely with our interagency partners [the CIA] and allies to implement the president’s guidance."

II. Good News?

A former CIA official told The Defense News the shift was a good thing, commenting, "Do you want the nation’s top espionage agency conducting a paramilitary mission or performing espionage?  The agency, since 9/11, and it's understandable, has gotten away from its core missions. A lot of the collection and analysis really is now used for targeting."

The administration's new policy, signed by the President this week, gives the CIA wiggle room to continue to conduct death strikes of its own, if necessary, while emphasizing that most deathstrikes will be run by the military from here on out.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former Republican presidential nominee and the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, agrees with his former rival's plan, commenting in March remarks, "I believe the majority of the responsibility for this should rest with the military.  The majority of it can be conducted by the Department of Defense.  It’s not the job of the Central Intelligence Agency. ... It’s the military’s job."

Some feel the CIA would do a better job managing the program. [Image Source: AP Photo]

But members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees have pushed back against the plan, including members of the President's own party.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suggests the President may be leaving the drone warfare campaign in less capable hands, remarking, "We’ve watched the intelligence aspect of the drone program: how they function. The quality of the intelligence. Watching the agency exercise patience and discretion.  The military [armed drone] program has not done that nearly as well.  That causes me concern."

Source: Defense News

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CIA to DoD
By dubyadubya on 5/28/2013 9:30:33 PM , Rating: 2
That fixes everything. Lets try the old shell game.

RE: CIA to DoD
By TSS on 5/28/2013 10:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
Does that also mean any strikes can now be considered "acts of war" rather then "black ops intelligence", with proper reprocussions? Probably not, but just thought i'd ask.

Also, the comparison made to justify this is just horrifying. It's absolutely sickening. SWAT team members do not gun down 3-4 civilians, or atleast non-intended targets, before shooting their target then justify it as "collateral damage". Drones do, have, and will continue to do so as a missile has more capability for destruction then a bullet. Comparing a drone strike to a SWAT team action is ludicrous.

RE: CIA to DoD
By Master Kenobi on 5/29/2013 12:44:19 AM , Rating: 1
The DoD is a failure when it comes to this type of work. The CIA got results because they have the resources and the background of doing that type of wet work. DoD, not so much. The only part of the DoD that might benefit (JSOC) already has access to Predators and Reapers for exactly these purposes. The regular military is too incompetent to utilize surgical drone strikes effectively.

RE: CIA to DoD
By BRB29 on 5/29/2013 8:15:38 AM , Rating: 2
Wait what?
How can you even make that assumption?

CIA or Central Intelligence Agency should stick with what they do. Intelligence.
The military should stick with what they do.

If you ask me who is more surgically accurate, it's not even a comparison between any agency vs the military. A USMC sniper team of 2 can stay on the hunt waiting for weeks and put a 50 cal round into someone's forehead from over a mile away. These agencies also use the USMC sniper school to train their agents in Quantico. In operations, they use them very differently.

I've also sat in Command Centers during aerial strikes. We practically put he damn bomb/missile on the person's head. I don't know how you can get more accurate than that. In the middle east, the Army Rangers and USMC Recons are very effective and they work together taking taking down targets. I think people give more credit to Navy SEALS than the other branches' special forces because of Hollywood. The truth is, they all share a lot of the same school. They fill different roles and types of operations.

The military can make sure they hit their target. They have the resources and manpower to lock down an entire town. The aerial strikes are to limit casualties. The CIA is nowhere near comparable here.

Also, the military will not hide information they don't need to keep classified. CIA will call death strikes and you'll never find out why. The military will issue at least what you need to know after the operations without jeopardizing any missions.

RE: CIA to DoD
By Master Kenobi on 5/29/2013 10:14:41 AM , Rating: 1
I'm going to assume you are completely unaware that the CIA is authorized for CLANDESTINE activities, not just "intelligence". The military is incapable of operating in such a fashion.

RE: CIA to DoD
By karimtemple on 5/29/2013 10:31:30 AM , Rating: 2
lol, You are supremely uninformed. Try reading a book some time.

RE: CIA to DoD
By Master Kenobi on 5/29/2013 2:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
What your reading in those books is fiction, nice try. Let me know when you get some first hand knowledge before you start talking about nonsense you know nothing about.

RE: CIA to DoD
By BRB29 on 5/29/2013 10:32:42 AM , Rating: 2
Really? Is that why I said that these agencies train their agents at the same schools as the military?

RE: CIA to DoD
By Master Kenobi on 5/29/2013 2:22:02 PM , Rating: 2
I think you have it backwards. While general combat training might occur at USSOCOM facilities, the rest is at agency facilities.

RE: CIA to DoD
By BRB29 on 5/30/2013 9:12:54 AM , Rating: 2
So we are in agreement that the CIA is not as good as the military in taking out targets.
general combat training? There's nothing general about sniper school, survival schools, etc...

You can't expect an agent to be like 007. Their mission is intelligence and deception. They train field agents with military skills to survive and sometimes take out targets if there is no other choice. There is nothing that can replace SOCs right now besides a drone strike. But giving that authority to the CIA is asking for abuse of power.

Whatever book you read is BS. I have actual experience in MARSOC right before I retired. I was support(not operator) but in the team. Many of my friends got out and works for the SS, CIA, FBI, SWAT, PDs, etc...It's a typical career path. I promise you agents are not sent out to kill people. That is a last resort. They call special ops commands for that and assist the team.

It's obvious that each agency has their expertise. You can't possibly think that the CIA is better at eliminating terrorists than the military. That's like saying the military is better that gathering intelligence than the CIA.

RE: CIA to DoD
By inperfectdarkness on 5/29/2013 2:57:01 AM , Rating: 2
with the exception of USSOCOM (and even then, primarily delta-force & seal-team-6) the DOD has MUCH more transparency than the CIA. Air America? CIA. Sheep-Dipping? CIA. Cross-border UAV ops? CIA.

I know to those on the outside, there doesn't appear to be any distinction--but there is. CIA is based around covert & clandestine operations; espionage. DOD is based around direct force on force application; combat. By shifting from CIA to DOD, our country is actually taking steps towards greater transparency & more culpability/ownership in UAV ops. If something goes wrong, the DOD forces the USA to be much more accountable than the CIA. The POTUS has practically ZERO "plausible deniability" when it comes to the DOD, unlike the CIA.

RE: CIA to DoD
By Master Kenobi on 5/29/2013 2:19:33 PM , Rating: 1
Transparency in this type of operation is not a good thing. Most Americans can't stomach hearing about all the things this country does around the world.

RE: CIA to DoD
By boeush on 5/29/2013 6:44:13 PM , Rating: 3
Huh? How is it a good thing that a supposedly representative government should be doing things around the world that most of those it "represents" would find intolerable?

If most Americans can't stomach such activities, then perhaps the government shouldn't be engaging in same. Then at least maybe most Americans wouldn't be so perpetually and pitifully mystified at why so much of the world hates them.

This really goes to the heart of whether we're an imperial power or a representative democracy. If the American people have really grown comfortable in letting "benevolent" dictators do secret and hideous things well out of sight and mind just as long as it's "for the greater good", then perhaps our American Experiment has failed at last.

RE: CIA to DoD
By maugrimtr on 5/30/2013 4:49:17 AM , Rating: 2
The problem with the SWAT team analogy, is that one hopes the SWAT team will not kill other bystanders while going after the sniper. It's an utterly false comparison made simply to downplay the depravity on show when drone strikes do kill bystanders (sure, some of those bystanders are themselves terrorists but that assumption will not hold all the time for obvious reasons).

Still, the DOD has far more accountability and there's nowhere for the President to run and hide by allowing the entire planet to mock his continual denials of a CIA drone program.

RE: CIA to DoD
By amelia321 on 5/29/13, Rating: 0
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