Top News: Six months after the White House hinted it would shift reponsibility for America's deadly drone war from the CIA to the Pentagon, a move seen as a way to increase transparency in the program, the co-called migration of operations has stalled and is unlikely to happen any time soon, FP's Gordon Lubold and Shane Harris report.
U.S. officials tell FP that between the complexity of the issue, the distinct operational and cultural differences between the Pentagon and CIA, and the bureaucratic politics of it all, the program's transfer to the Pentagon has become an all but unattainable goal. "The physics of making this happen quickly are remarkably difficult," one U.S. official told FP. "The goal remains the same, but the reality has set in."
The program of lethal drone strikes has become a huge political liability for the Obama administration and transferring the program to the Pentagon was seen as one way of moving it out of the shadows and onto more solid political ground. One U.S. official emphasized that the program's transfer to the Pentagon remains the objective, just not one that's likely to be achieved in the near term. "This is the policy, and we're moving toward that policy, but it will take some time," the official said. "The notion that there has been some sort of policy reversal is just not accurate. I think from the moment the policy was announced it was clear it was not something that would occur overnight or immediately."
But the inability to move drone strikes under the Pentagon's umbrella also speaks volumes about the program itself. The CIA has become extraordinarily good at carrying out such strikes -- just last week they knocked off Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud -- and even if the program has resulted in more civilian casualties than the agency would like to admit, U.S. officials are loath to fiddle with a program that represents their best way of striking at leaders of terrorist groups.
Syria: Diplomats from the United States, Russia, and the United Nations failed to smooth out the details necessary to lay the groundwork for a peace conference that was to be held later this month with the goal of bringing the Syrian civil war to a close. The diplomatic failure in Geneva means it is unlikely that a peace conference will be held this month and possibly not even this year. More than 100,000 Syrians have died since the conflict began in 2011.
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- With negotiations between Iran and Western powers set to resume Thursday, the Iranian chief negotiator said he believes a deal can be struck this week.
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