His replacement centered instead on crafting general standards for strikes and raids in particular countries. It permitted the military and the C.I.A. to target suspects based on their status as members of a terrorist group, even if they were merely foot soldier jihadists with no special skills or leadership roles. And it permitted operators to decide whether to carry out specific actions.
During the presidential transition, Mr. Sullivan and Avril D. Haines, who oversaw development of Mr. Obama’s drone strike playbook and is now Mr. Biden’s director of national intelligence, raised the prospect of tightening the Trump-era rules and procedures to reduce the risk of civilian casualties and blowback from excessive use of drone strikes, but not necessarily going all the way back to the Obama-era system, one official said.
Since Mr. Biden took office, the ensuing interagency review has been primarily overseen by Elizabeth D. Sherwood-Randall, his homeland security adviser, and Clare Linkins, the senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council.
The Biden team is also weighing whether to restore an Obama-era order that had required the government to annually disclose estimates of how many suspected terrorists and civilian bystanders it had killed in airstrikes outside war zones. Mr. Obama invoked that requirement in 2016, but Mr. Trump removed it in 2019. The military separately publishes some information about its strikes in places like Somalia, but the C.I.A. does not.
While The New York Times reported on Mr. Trump’s replacement rules in 2017, the Trump administration never released its drone policy or publicly discussed the parameters and principles that framed it, noted Luke Hartig, who worked as a top counterterrorism aide in Mr. Obama’s White House.
Asserting that there was good reason to believe the government did not publicly acknowledge the full range of strikes carried out under Mr. Trump, Mr. Hartig said it was appropriate for the Biden team to gather more information about that period before deciding whether and how to change the system that governed it.
“There is a lot the administration needs to do to reinstate higher standards after the Trump administration, but they shouldn’t just snap back to the Obama rules,” he said. “The world has changed. The counterterrorism fight has evolved.”