A news report suggests that authority for the US drone program could shift from the CIA to the Pentagon. Critics hope that would open it to more oversight from Congress and citizens.
The growing speculation that the White House is preparing to shift its secretive drone program from the Central Intelligence Agency to the Pentagon is raising new questions about just how much more transparency this move would portend.
The hope among critics is that this change would allow greater oversight by Congress – and, by extension, the American public – of America’s targeted killing program.
That could be true, experts say. Congress is generally more successful in bringing the Pentagon to heel through budget threats than is the CIA. Moreover, the Pentagon is subject to citizen Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
But elements within the Pentagon are just as secretive – if not more so – than the CIA, meaning critics might not get the degree of openness they might want.
“Whether transparency increases really depends on who at the DoD [Department of Defense] the program goes to,” says Jennifer Rowland, program associate with the National Security Studies program at the New America Foundation.
Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, a longtime member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is pushing for the drone program to change addresses.