In a speech today, President Obama will announce that he is moving control of drone strikes away from the CIA and to the military, and discuss a possible ending to the global and costly "War on Terror" that has defined United States foreign policy since 2001.
In the first major speech on foreign policy of his second term, Obama will announce an intention to limit drone strikes in countries that are not "overt war zones" like Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. These are countries where the United States has a strong military presence, and has been engaged in covert wars fought by elite forces with virtually no public scrutiny or government oversight.
A new "classified" policy (because no matter the policy, we're just never going to see the thing) will only allow drone strikes on individuals who are posing “a continuing, imminent threat to Americans” and cannot be captured. This will stop instances of the CIA agreeing to use drone strikes to kill enemies of other countries in exchange for the opportunity to fly drones with impunity.
Still, the shift does not mean Obama is backing away from the use of drone strikes during the War on Terror. In the speech, he will outline "why the use of drone strikes is necessary, legal and just, while addressing the various issues raised by our use of targeted action.”
And while Obama will discuss a point at which Al-Qaeda will be decimated to the point of no longer presenting a threat to Americans or American interests, he does not see this global conflict ending for another ten to twenty years.
Obama will also renew his efforts to close Guantanamo Bay, and will appoint a high-level State Department official to oversee that effort, which will include the possibility of sending some prisoners back to Yemen (a country that had previously not been considered a possible recipient of prisoners).