The disputes over drones became so protracted that the White House launched a review over the summer, in which Mr. Obama intervened.

The review ultimately affirmed support for the underlying CIA program. But a senior official said: “The bar has been raised. Inside CIA, there is a recognition you need to be damn sure it’s worth it.”

Among the changes: The State Department won greater sway in strike decisions; Pakistani leaders got advance notice about more operations; and the CIA agreed to suspend operations when Pakistani officials visit the U.S…

The CIA concessions were detailed by high-level officials in a series of interviews with The Wall Street Journal. But in a measure of the discord, administration officials have different interpretations about the outcome of the White House review. While some cast the concessions as a “new phase” in which the CIA would weigh diplomacy more heavily in its activities, others said the impact was minimal and that the bar for vetting targets has been consistently high.