Tuesday, January 21, 2014

who should fly drones?

Somebody leaked to the press that Congress had secretly passed a provision in the new omnibus appropriations bill that restricts the transfer of armed drone attacks from the CIA to the U.S. military. The Post and Times have slightly different descriptions of the amendment, which was included in a secret annex to the bill. This was done by appropriators, and some authorizers like Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] were upset. Obviously, they didn't know about the change or try to read the secret annex.

Currently both the CIA and the Pentagon have lethal drone operations, but the White House indicated last May 23 that most would be shifted to the military -- a change also favored by the new CIA director, John Brennan.

There are good reasons for and against the change. CIA operations can be kept more secret, there by reducing some of the blowback abroad. The Pentagon has better accountability to Congress and the public, including established procedures to consider moral and legal consequences of drone strikes. I'm undecided on the matter myself, but wanted to draw attention to the fact that Congress does sometime legislate in secret.

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