U.S. officials said the CIA would operate alongside, and in close coordination with, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, which has been flying Predators and other remotely piloted planes over Yemen for much of the past year.
Because it operates under different legal authorities than the military, the CIA may have greater latitude to carry out strikes if the political climate shifts in Yemen and cooperation with American forces is diminished or cut off.
The expanded drone campaign will make use of “a mix of U.S. assets,” said a U.S. official familiar with the plan. “It’s not like you’re going to have a change of command ceremony that goes from U.S. military to CIA.”
In addition, up to 40,000 people have fled the Abyan province for fear of drone strikes.