Targeted killing was an issue under the last administration. And now, President Donald Trump might have made it worse.
Reports from Vice and others claim he transferred the power over his predecessor's drone program entirely to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — an institution plagued by scandal stemming from recent revelations regarding its highly unconstitutional spying methods.
But transferring responsibility to the CIA is risky because it intensifies the country's remote killing strategy, Vice's Motherboard reports. In addition, it makes accountability less likely as those who are to blame for abuse will be protected by the blanket of secrecy afforded to the agency.
By allowing targeted drone strikes to be carried out without the approval of the Pentagon, Trump has essentially shielded these killings from public scrutiny.
According to Dan Gettinger, co-director at the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, this move gives the CIA “greater freedom to carry out strikes on its own.” And because the CIA operates covertly, or in the shadows, the Wall Street Journal suggests that giving the agency more blanket powers will lead to less accountability.
Regardless of what the backlash over this transfer of power will be, this policy change illustrates just how important it is to keep individuals like Trump from obtaining more power over the U.S. national defense system without participation from Congress — and without holding a national debate first.
As it stands, it's hard to see a change to the course the country is taking. But if we're serious about keeping our leaders in check, we must restrict the president's powers so that even if another tyrannical politician wins the election in the future, he or she will not be able to expand the country's illegal wars abroad.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Josh Smith