Congress Restricts Push to Transfer Drone Program From CIA to Pentagon

The move underscores reservations some members of Congress have about the Pentagon’s ability to oversee the U.S. drone program.

National Journal
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Jordain Carney
Jan. 16, 2014, 3:05 a.m.

Law­makers are us­ing the om­ni­bus spend­ing bill to re­strict Pres­id­ent Obama’s at­tempt to trans­fer con­trol of the U.S. drone pro­gram to the Pentagon — mark­ing one of the more dir­ect at­tempts by Con­gress to in­ter­fere in how the ad­min­is­tra­tion handles cov­ert op­er­a­tions.

The pro­vi­sion re­stricts the ad­min­is­tra­tion from us­ing any fund­ing to move drones or the au­thor­ity to carry out drone strikes from the CIA — which cur­rently has over­sight — to the De­fense De­part­ment. The pro­vi­sion was in­cluded in a clas­si­fied ad­di­tion to the bill by mem­bers of the Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee in both cham­bers, of­fi­cials told The Wash­ing­ton Post.

Spe­cif­ics on the re­stric­tions are cur­rently un­known, but a per­son fa­mil­i­ar with the bill said they are more com­plex than simply with­hold­ing money.

The move comes as the ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to trans­ition the CIA back to its more tra­di­tion­al in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing mis­sion. But some mem­bers of Con­gress have doubts about the Pentagon’s abil­ity to over­see the coun­try’s drone pro­gram ef­fect­ively and ac­cur­ately.

A sec­tion in the om­ni­bus bill deal­ing with De­fense De­part­ment spend­ing notes that “ad­just­ments to clas­si­fied pro­grams are ad­dressed in the ac­com­pa­ny­ing clas­si­fied an­nex.”


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