By Kristina Wong - 05/23/14 10:39 AM EDT
Military officials are pressing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to allow them to publicly defend American drone strikes, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Supporters of greater disclosure argue that secrecy over the strikes bolsters support for al Qaeda, and want the U.S. to provide more information on its operations.
"The enemy gets new traction when we are silent following these strikes," a defense official told the Journal.
Drone strikes carried out by the CIA are classified operations, and U.S. officials typically do not discuss them publicly, nor do they address details on the number of strikes or civilian deaths.
The push for greater disclosure comes as the White House announced this week it would release its legal rationale for targeting Americans overseas with drone strikes.
In 2011, the U.S. killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, along with three other Americans.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed David Barron, the author of the memos justifying the strikes, to the federal bench. His nomination sparked controversy, with lawmakers from both parties voicing concerns over his role crafting the administration’s drone policies.
A White House official told the Journal that the administration supports greater transparency, but other officials said divisions remain about discussing drone strikes openly. Some worry public disclosure could lead to greater limits on drone operations.
A White House plan to shift control of the drone strikes from the CIA to the Pentagon, which would allow greater congressional oversight, has also stalled.
Officials are considering a plan to allow the CIA to locate terror suspects, while the military carries out the strikes. Talks on that plan are continuing, the Journal reported.