So, while defunding Obamacare is some kind of gross abuse of authority, defunding the Obama Administration’s plans to move the drone program from the CIA to the military is just fine for liberals. They can micromanage the executive branch through legislation and funding.
Congress has moved to block President Obama’s plan to shift control of the U.S. drone campaign from the CIA to the Defense Department, inserting a secret provision in the massive government spending bill introduced this week that would preserve the spy agency’s role in lethal counterterrorism operations, U.S. officials said.
The measure, included in a classified annex to the $1.1 trillion federal budget plan, would restrict the use of any funding to transfer unmanned aircraft or the authority to carry out drone strikes from the CIA to the Pentagon, officials said.
The provision represents an unusually direct intervention by lawmakers into the way covert operations are run, impeding an administration plan aimed at returning the CIA’s focus to traditional intelligence gathering and possibly bringing more transparency to drone strikes.
The move also reflects some lawmakers’ lingering doubts about the U.S. military’s ability to conduct strikes against al-Qaeda and its regional affiliates without hitting the wrong targets and killing civilians.
I have a really difficult time believing that this was about reducing the number of civilians and bystanders killed. It is much easier to believe that some in Congress feared that a move to the military would mean more public records.
In general, it seems that Congress is just find with the way the CIA has changed, even though some want it to return to its former job of actually gathering intelligence.
Also at issue is the fundamental mission of the CIA, which during the past decade has morphed into a paramilitary force. Senior officials, including CIA Director John O. Brennan, have warned that the agency’s emphasis on lethal operations deviates from its traditional mission and could impair its ability to focus on gathering intelligence.
This has been a longstanding critique of the CIA from many people all over the political spectrum—that the CIA’s “black ops” distract it from the job it is actually supposed to do, keep the President informed about the world. That is even the point of its name: “central intelligence.”
So why do people in Congress want to keep the situation from changing?
Obviously, to enact such an “unusually direct intervention” indicates that some people in Congress, or who lobby Congress, feel very strongly about this issue. It would be nice for journalists to figure out why.