President Donald Trump's administration is planning to undo some of former President Barack Obama's limits on drone strikes and commando raids, likely leading to counterterrorism missions in areas the United States has yet to kill or capture Islamic militants in.
The New York Times reports that Trump's top national security advisers are aiming to ease two older rules, one of which includes targeting drone strikes at "foot-soldier jihadists with no unique skills or leadership roles" rather than just militants who are huge threats to the States. Relaxing the second rule from Obama's presidency would allow these strikes to occur without high-level vetting.
Although the administration isn't changing the rule that protects civilian bystanders from being harmed in strikes, The Times says that these changes will likely draw some criticism. Concern for the results of the proposals, which Trump still needs to sign off on, is definitely understandable, as they could lead to the losses of many innocent lives. On the other hand, less strictness surrounding drone strikes would mean more opportunities to defeat threatening extremists both in combat zones and areas outside war zones.
A committee of national security representatives have discussed the proposed rules under the name "P.S.P," or "Principles, Standards and Procedures." According to The Times, an official pointed out that P.S.P. was similar to that of the Obama administration but allowed for "fewer internal hurdles" preventing specific missions. However, starting strikes or raids in new countries would still need to be approved, while the States will likely need a country's permission before targeting lesser militant threats within its territory.
Exclusive: Rewrite of Obama rules for drone strikes is on Trump's desk. Here's what got watered down & what survived https://t.co/mivcgQQqg0
— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) September 22, 2017
It's still unknown if Trump will agree to the committee's decision to keeping civilians' protection during drone strikes.