Ken Dilanian | Associated Press | Reader Supported news | December 23, 2015
utting the U.S. military in charge of drone strikes in Iraq and Syria has effectively reduced congressional scrutiny of those sensitive operations, leaving some activists, lawmakers and U.S. intelligence officials fearful of increased civilian casualties.
For the last decade, the CIA ran the American effort to find and kill al-Qaida members with drones, mostly in Pakistan and Yemen, outside of declared war zones. But the frequency of those strikes has plummeted to about one a month. The main counterterrorism focus now is the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, where military special operations forces are flying drones that hunt and kill a senior militant every two days.
The shift reflects both legal and philosophical considerations. When he announced a framework for targeted killing two years ago, President Barack Obama argued that the military, not a secret intelligence agency, should be the primary instrument of lethal force against terrorists.