DIRKOU, Niger — The CIA is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against al-Qaida and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during President Barack Obama’s administration and restored by President Donald Trump.
Late in his presidency, Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.
But now the CIA is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and