Allowing the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command units to operate under the CIA would give the U.S. greater leeway to strike at militants even without the explicit blessing of the Yemeni government. In addition to streamlining the launching of strikes, it would provide deniability to the Yemeni government because the CIA operations would be covert. The White House is already considering adding armed CIA drones to the arsenal against militants in Yemen, mirroring the agency’s Pakistan campaign…

Placing military units overseen by the Pentagon under CIA control is unusual but not unprecedented. Units from the Joint Special Operations Command have been temporarily transferred to the CIA in other countries, including Iraq, in recent years in order to get around restrictions placed on military operations…

U.S. Special Operations teams in Yemen, birthplace of Osama bin Laden’s father, already play an expansive role in the country. Some spearhead an effort to track and kill al Qaeda leaders as part of a campaign authorized by President Barack Obama. Other teams run small development projects, a role typically handled by State Department aid officials.