News Column

Hidden Budget Clause Would Keep Drone Program With CIA

January 16, 2014

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predator drone
Predator drone (file photo)

Tucked into the $1.1 trillion spending plan for the U.S. government is language that would keep control of the U.S. drone campaign with the CIA, officials said.

The provision, included in a classified supplement to the 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 Defense Department, blocking President Obama's plan to shift control of the controversial program and return the CIA's focus to intelligence-gathering, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Besides having a direct effect on the way covert operations are run, the Post said the move also may reflect lawmakers' concerns about the military's ability to conduct targeted strikes without hitting the wrong targets and killing civilians.

The extent of the restrictions was unclear. Officials told the Post the language was included by members of the House and Senate appropriations committees. While the drone provision isn't included in the budget blueprint released to the public, a section outlining $572 billion in Defense Department spending notes that "adjustments to classified programs are addressed in the accompanying classified annex."

The Post said the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon declined to comment.

The spending bill sets budgets for federal agencies for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. The legislation cleared the House Wednesday and is expected to be approved by the Senate this week and delivered to Obama for consideration.

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Original headline: Congress seeks to keep oversight of drone program with CIA


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Source: Copyright 2014 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.


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