Drone strikes
Women walk past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2017. Reuters

UPDATE: 6:04 a.m. EDT — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, tweeted Tuesday morning claiming that Donald Trump’s alleged decision to give authority to the CIA to conduct drone strikes on terrorists "signals that bullying, disloyalty & incompetence pays."

Original story:

Shifting from the drone policy of the Obama administration, President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) new authority to conduct drone attacks against suspected militants, anonymous U.S. officials said. The new policy is in contrast to that of former President Barack Obama that limited the CIA's paramilitary role, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Under the Obama administration, the CIA used drones and other intelligence resources to locate suspected terrorists and then the military conducted the actual strike.

Read: Trump May Reopen CIA Black Site Prisons With Executive Order

Although Obama pushed for the use of drones, he kept the military in place to conduct the actual strike. During Obama's two terms, a total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen compared to 57 strikes under George W. Bush, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Obama's aim to keep up the war against al Qaeda while releasing the U.S. military from war grounds in the Middle East and Asia gave way to the use of drones.

Trump wants to accelerate the fight against Islamic State group and other militant groups. The CIA's new authority, which was provided by Trump soon after his inauguration, was first used in February in a strike against senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, according to the Journal. Although officials said that the new authority under Trump is only for CIA's operations in Syria, it is likely the CIA may be able to conduct drone strikes in other areas as well.

Critics have pointed out that even if drones are used to target terrorists, the final decision should rest with the military.

“There are a lot of problems with the drone program and the targeted killing program, but the CIA should be out of the business of ordering lethal strikes,” said Christopher Anders, deputy director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union. He said that doesn't mean the CIA can't "have a role in assisting in the use of fore in location targets."

"But that decision on whether to strike or not to strike and that order should be coming from through the military chain of command," he added, the Journal reported.

Under the Obama administration, the military was in charge of promoting transparency and accountability. The CIA, which operates under secrecy, wasn't required to disclose the number of suspected terrorists or civilians it killed in drone strikes. As U.S. officials have pointed out earlier, the ultimate goal is an integrated model under which the CIA continues to hunt targets, but lets the military pull the trigger, according to the Dawn.