There's a Secret Provision in Congress' Spending Bill

It would kill Obama's plans to take the drone program out of CIA hands
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2014 7:54 AM CST
Secret Spending Bill Clause: CIA Keeps Drone Program
In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Congress' $1.1 trillion spending bill contains a secret provision torpedoing President Obama's plans to pass the drone program from the CIA to the Pentagon. In a classified annex, the bill specifically prohibits any funds being used to facilitate such a transfer, the Washington Post reports. Obama wants to shift the CIA from its paramilitary footing back to an intelligence one, and perhaps bring greater transparency to the drone program. But lawmakers don't trust the military with the keys.

One source said the provision was more complicated than simply withholding money for the switch, and former officials said it could contain language forcing the military to demonstrate its targeting procedures were up to CIA standards. Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein last year said she'd "really have to be convinced" that the military could exercise as much "patience and discretion" as the CIA in avoiding civilian casualties, statements she says she stands behind. The military didn't help its case last month either by hitting a wedding party in Yemen; in an op-ed yesterday, Yemen's minister for human rights said that strike had sent a "wave of outrage" across the country. Yesterday also saw a drone strike kill a Yemeni farmer. (More Barack Obama stories.)

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