The deaths of an Italian and an American in a covert CIA drone strike in Pakistan have breathed new urgency into a long-stalled plan to give the Pentagon primacy over targeted killing of terrorists overseas.  

President Barack Obama announced two years ago that he wanted the armed forces, not a civilian intelligence agency, to be in charge of killing militants abroad who pose a threat to the United States. But the effort soon slowed to a crawl amid bureaucratic rivalries and congressional turf battles.

Now, administration officials and their allies in Congress want to get the transition moving again. The catalyst was Obama's struggle last month to explain how two hostages held by al-Qaida were accidentally killed without acknowledging that the CIA routinely conducts attacks in Pakistan.