Leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee were secretly pushing President Barack Obama to allow the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to carry out target killings against Islamic State (IS) leaders, local media reported Thursday.
A bipartisan plea had recently been sent to Obama to reconsider a policy guidance issued in 2013 that stated that the US military rather than the CIA should carry out targeted strikes, US TV network NBC News reported.
The plea was sent before the Brussels attacks, said NBC, quoting US officials as saying that Obama was unlikely to change what he believed was a "successful high-value targeting effort."
At the outset of his presidency, Obama ramped up CIA drone missile strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, viewing them as an effective tool for degrading the extremist group al-Qaida.
However, in 2013, a policy guidance was issued that confined CIA drone activities to intelligence gathering.
According to NBC, Obama and others came to believe that the focus on man hunting was siphoning resources and bandwidth from the CIA’s main mission of espionage. He also believed that as a legal and policy matter, if a terrorist needed to be killed, the military should do it.