Trump Revokes Obama-Era Rule For Reporting Civilians Killed In Intel Ops

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is seen at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, April 13, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 6, 2019 2:29 p.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked an Obama-era requirement for reporting civilian casualties that resulted from U.S. intelligence operations in non-combat areas across the globe.

Trump struck a section of an executive order issued by former President Barack Obama, which required both the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies to report on civilian casualties that occurred during their operations. There are other provisions that still require the Pentagon to report on civilian casualties caused by military operations outside of combat areas.

“I don’t know why they’re being coy,” said Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the private Federation of American Scientists. “They are not saying ‘We don’t want to report CIA operation casualties,’ but that’s what they’re doing. They are eliminating reporting of casualties arising from CIA operations.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said the U.S. government is fully committed to “minimizing — to the greatest extent possible — civilian causalities and acknowledging responsibility when they unfortunately occur during military operations.”

The spokesman, who spoke only on condition of anonymity to elaborate on the president’s written order, said Trump’s action eliminates “superfluous” reporting requirements that don’t “improve government transparency, but rather distract our intelligence professionals from their primary mission.”

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