Former President Barack Obama required overseas Predator MQ-1 and Reaper MQ-9 attacks on terrorist elements to adhere to a pre-approved plan demonstrating that “the individual’s activities pose a continuing, imminent threat to US persons,” according to a once-top secret presidential policy guidance document released July 1, 2016.
The man who told voters in February 2016 "I would bring back waterboarding … And I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” in order to extract intelligence from captured terrorists — referring to a tactic widely discredited as a method for obtaining true information — is poised to roll back rules on unmanned aerial systems and special forces missions, unnamed White House officials told the New York Times Thursday.
The result of the policy would allow the CIA and other US military forces in the Middle East and around the globe to mow down suspected jihadists regardless of whether they contribute unique skills to or take leadership roles within organizations such as Daesh and al-Qaeda.
The proposal opens the door for US forces to target terrorists in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Libya with drone strikes or commando raids with greater frequency, NYT reports.
The pending policy change is considered likely in light of US President Donald Trump’s vows to eliminate restrictions for killing terrorists.
"The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the re-emergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people," Trump said Tuesday at the UN General Assembly in New York.
During an August speech on US strategy in South Asia, Trump promised to “expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorist and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos.”
“My administration will ensure, that you, the brave defenders of the American people, will have the necessary tools and rules of engagement to make this strategy work, and work effectively and work quickly,” the president said during the address to servicemembers at Fort Meyer in Arlington, Virginia.