President Joe Biden signed a classified policy Friday that limits the use of drones for counterterrorism strikes outside of "conventional war zones," The New York Times reports.
According to the report, which cites an anonymous "senior administration official," the new policy restrictions were sent to the Pentagon and CIA on Friday that seeks to lower the number of strikes and requires Biden approve of any names added to a "list" of targets that could be in the crosshairs of "direct action."
Since taking office in January 2021, Biden has moved to limit drone strikes overseas, tightening up limits in effect during the administration of former President Donald Trump, who gave commanders in the field more discretion in using the strikes, moving back to more centralized control as it was during former President Barack Obama's tenure.
The Washington Post reported in September 2021 that while previous administrations were operating from a more "blanket authorization" policy, he sought to "rebalance" war powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.
"At the beginning of the administration, President Biden established new interim guidance concerning the United States' use of military force and related national security operations," The Post reported National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne saying at the time.
In 2019, The Post reported that 120 civilians were killed in drone strikes in the previous year, and a Director of National Intelligence report showed 473 strikes during Obama's administration killing around 2,500 "combatants" and 100 civilians between January 2009 and December 2015.
That report included only the number of strikes "outside" actively hostile areas such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The new restrictions are also in line with previous rule changes Biden made in March 2021 that set the rules for such strikes and commando raids in some conflict zones, U.S. News and World reported at the time.
Department of Defense spokesman John Kirby said at the time that the "interim guidance" was given "to ensure the president has full visibility on proposed, significant actions, which the National Security Council will review."
"It's too early to come to grips with what reality is going to be, or the impact it's going to have on specific parts of the world or on specific terrorist groups," Kirby said in the report at the time. "It's interim. It's not meant to be permanent, and it doesn't mean it's a cessation" of these strikes or missions, he added. "The authorities in some parts of the world are going to get visibility at the National Security Council."
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