A Pentagon spokesman told Defense News that the numbers would still be available — to reporters willing to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
Centcom’s area of operations includes Pakistan and Yemen as well as Afghanistan, so it might be expected to take over a large proportion of the strikes, if the drone program is indeed transferred to the military.
There are also unanswered questions about the legal implications of such a change, for example in Pakistan, where the government has publicly said it has not authorized U.S. strikes — although former senior U.S. officials say the two countries’ intelligence agencies have a confidential understanding on the issue.
On Friday, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, who is conducting an investigation into U.S. use of targeted killing, said the program was a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
The drone attacks should stop, said Ben Emmerson, after an unpublicized three-day visit to Islamabad.
In a statement Friday, he said the drone campaign “involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”
“Pakistan has also been quite clear that it considers the drone campaign to be counter-productive and to be radicalizing a whole new generation,” Mr. Emmerson added, “thereby perpetuating the problem of terrorism in the region.”