Trump Orders Halt to Reports of Civilian Deaths in Drone Strikes Outside War Zones

Administration says reporting to public 'distracts' spy agencies

The latest move to curb US government reporting to the public about civilians they’ve killed, President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday ending the requirement to report all civilian deaths in drone strikes that take place outside of war zones.

This was a policy put in place by President Obama in 2016, in the face of growing criticism of the large number of civilian deaths in drone strikes, particularly in Pakistan. The administration argues this is “superfluous reporting,” and distracts US spy agencies from their missions.

Drone killings outside of war zones are, of course, predominantly the domain of the CIA. Attempts to put more of US drone warfare under the Pentagon’s control has cut back the CIA’s involvement. Maintaining the reporting requirement, however, would force the CIA to keep the public appraised of its killings, at least somewhat, as well as of which areas are not actually war zones.

Such reports have been rare under Trump at any rate, and it has been common for the administration to keep specifics of operations from the public to avoid policy debates. Some in Congress are suggesting they should reintroduce the same reporting requirement, though the administration has recently been ignoring some of Congress’ requirements to report to them, so it’s not clear that would matter.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of