The Obama administration is considering a drone strike to kill a U.S. citizen it says is a member of al-Qaida, officials said Monday.
The CIA has drones currently watching the individual, who, officials told the Associated Press, is actively planning attacks against Americans living abroad.
Under President Obama’s policy the military — not the CIA — can kill Americans overseas who are suspected terrorists.
The country where the man resides doesn’t allow U.S. military action within its borders, and officials said defense leaders were torn on whether or not to strike.
Obama said last year that a person can only be killed by a drone strike “to prevent or stop attacks against U.S. persons, and even then, only when capture is not feasible and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively.” And that person must be “a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons,” according to the guidelines, but the Justice Department hasn’t finished building its legal case against him.
But officials said the president could defy those guidelines and allow the CIA to use a drone strike.
A move to transfer oversight of the U.S. drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon was recently blocked by Congress under the omnibus bill. Such a move could have shed more light on some of the gaps in the public’s knowledge of drones, but members of Congress have voiced hesitation about the Defense Department’s ability to effectively and accurately manage the program.