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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Under President Trump, the CIA is set to broaden its drone operations in Africa to fight al-Qaeda and ISIS insurgents, reports the New York Times.

Why it matters: The Obama administration had attempted to hand over the use of lethal drone flights to the U.S. military in order to increase transparency amid backlash from foreign diplomats and military officials over the accidental killings of civilians.

The details: The CIA has had limited missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen, per the Times. Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo changed the agency's drone policy last year, citing a need for more counterterrorism efforts. Under the expansion, a new air base has been carved out at a small commercial airport in Niger to target Islamist militants in southern Libya.

  • An American official told the Times that the CIA hasn’t launched lethal drone missions from Niger yet, though it's likely to do so in the near future.
  • However, a Nigerien security official told the Times he had concluded that the CIA carried out an armed drone strike in July from the base. Maj. Karl Wiest, a spokesperson for Africa Command, denied that claim to the Times.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
20 mins ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 39 mins ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.

Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray as FBI director

FBI Director Christopher Wray at a virtual DOJ news briefing on Oct. 28. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/pool/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray as director of the FBI and has "confidence in the job he is doing," White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed in a tweet Thursday.

The big picture: Wray, who was nominated by former President Trump in 2017 after he fired former FBI Director James Comey, came under heavy criticism from Trump and his allies over the past year.