By Suzanne Kelly
The Obama administration publicly justified its use of unmanned drones to target suspected terrorists overseas for the first time Monday, with a top official saying the strikes are conducted "in full accordance with the law."
John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism adviser said strikes are used when the option of capture is not feasible. Brennan discussed the strikes during a Monday address at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think-tank.
"President Obama said here five years ago, if another nation cannot or will not take action, we will," Brennan said. "And it is an unfortunate fact that to save many innocent lives we are sometimes obliged to take lives - the lives of terrorists who seek to murder our fellow citizens."
The program utilizes unmanned aerial vehicles, often equipped with Hellfire missiles, to target al Qaeda operatives in remote locations overseas - often on the territory of U.S. allies such as Pakistan and Yemen. Brennan said the United States "respects national sovereignty and international law" and is guided by the laws of war in ordering those attacks.
But the attacks have drawn repeated condemnations from Pakistan, which says the strikes have killed numerous civilians. A drone strike hit a high school in the country's northwestern tribal region where intelligence officials said Islamic militants were hiding Sunday, bringing a fresh denunciation from Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
And domestic critics insist that the program isn't legal, and they remain concerned about the targeted killing of Americans like accused al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in a drone strike in Yemen in September.
"Mr. Brennan supplies legal conclusions, not legal analysis," said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "We continue to believe that the administration should release the Justice Department memos underlying the program - particularly the memo that authorizes the extrajudicial killing of American terrorism suspects. And the administration should release the evidence it relied on to conclude that an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, could be killed without charge, trial, or judicial process of any kind."
And a woman stood up in the middle of Brennan's speech to protest the use of the drone strikes. She was carried out by security.
Brennan's remarks are the Obama administration's most candid and open confirmation of the program to date. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the killing of al-Awlaki in March, saying the United States had the right to use "technologically advanced weapons" against terrorists, and Brennan said the top lawyers for the Pentagon, State Department and CIA have laid out the legal basis for the attacks.
"When considering lethal force, we are of course mindful that there are important checks on our ability to act unilaterally in foreign territories," he said. "We do not use force whenever we want, wherever we want. International legal principles, including respect for a state's sovereignty and the laws of war, impose constraints. The United States of America respects national sovereignty and international law."
Brennan said people are targeted if they are believed to pose a significant threat to the United States or its overseas interests. The targets are usually people holding high-ranking positions within al Qaeda, or who possess critical skills that help enable the terrorist organization to carry out attacks, and there is no feasible chance to capture them.
Arguments in favor of the method include the fact that no U.S. troops are put at risk, and that the precision targeting capabilities enable for the careful avoidance of civilian deaths. Brennan acknowledged that innocent civilians are killed sometimes, and the administration conducts a full review of the operation when that happens.
But he did not address the issue of backlash from al Qaeda or other organizations. In 2009, a CIA base in Afghanistan was targeted by a suicide bomber who posed as a double agent and killed seven CIA Officers along with a Jordanian intelligence official. A Taliban commander claimed that the attack was in retaliation for a drone strike.
And he said the program is now spreading beyond the United States, saying that other countries have the technology - casting light for the first time on the administration's concerns about the possibility that other countries using this technology against the United States.
"President Obama and those of us on his national security team are very mindful that as our nation uses this technology, we are establishing precedents that other nations may follow," he said. "And not all of them will be nations that share our interests or the premium we put on protecting human life, including innocent civilians."
Brennan also revealed that there are disagreements over use of the program within the administration - but he added that the nation is at war.
"If anyone in government who works in this area tells you they haven't struggled with this, then they haven't spent much time thinking about it. I know I have, and I will continue to struggle with it as long as I remain involved in counterterrorism."
When I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service? Cheers!
I really love your blog.. Great colors & theme. Did you develop this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím wanting to create my very own website and want to know where you got this from or what the theme is named. Cheers!
You've made some good points there. I checked on the internet to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this site.
Quality posts is the important to invite the viewers to pay a
quick visit the site, that's what this web page is providing.
Howdy, There's no doubt that your blog could possibly be having internet browser compatibility issues. When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent website!
Very good article! We will be linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.
When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service? Thank you!
Hello! I just wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for your excellent information you've got right here on this post. I will be coming back to your web site for more soon.
Ahaa, its fastidious dialogue regarding this post
here at this blog, I have read all that, so at this time me
also commenting here.
You made some good points there. I checked on the net for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.
whoah this blog is fantastic i like reading your articles.
Stay up the good work! You already know, a lot of people are hunting around for this information,
you can aid them greatly.
I used to be able to find good advice from your articles.
Hi there! I could have sworn Iíve been to your blog before but after browsing through many of the posts I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím definitely happy I found it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back often!
Good article. I certainly appreciate this website. Stick with it!
I was more than happy to uncover this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to check out new things in your site.
Hello my loved one! I want to say that this article
is awesome, great written and include approximately all important infos.
I would like to peer more posts like this .
Having read this I thought it was really enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!
Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I donít understand why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS problems? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!
Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this write-up and also the rest of the site is really good.
I enjoy looking through an article that will make men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!
Sizing needs will dictate the sort and size of copier you want to implement within your workplace.
An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this issue here on your site.
I was extremely pleased to find this great site. I want to to thank you for ones time for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you saved to fav to check out new information in your website.
You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest blogs on the internet. I am going to highly recommend this blog!
Awesome issues here. I'm very happy to see your article.
Thanks a lot and I'm looking forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a mail?
Hello there, I do think your website may be having web browser compatibility issues. When I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Aside from that, great website!
Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be useful to read through articles from other authors and practice a little something from their websites.
It's not my first time to go to see this website,
i am visiting this website dailly and obtain fastidious data from here all the time.
My blog ... Jeff Botsford Real Estate Agent
Right here is the perfect site for everyone who wishes to find out about this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really will need toÖHaHa). You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic that has been written about for years. Excellent stuff, just great!
Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post plus the rest of the website is really good.
You need to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality blogs on the web. I'm going to highly recommend this web site!
Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe this amazing site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the information!
Hello, I believe your blog may be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, fantastic blog!
I absolutely love your site.. Pleasant colors & theme. Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my own website and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Appreciate it!
You are so awesome! I do not suppose I've truly read a single thing like that before. So good to discover someone with a few unique thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!
I like looking through a post that will make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!
I was able to find good information from your blog articles.
May I simply say what a comfort to find somebody that really understands what they're talking about on the net. You actually realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you're not more popular since you definitely possess the gift.
I really like it whenever people get together and share opinions. Great website, keep it up!
Hi, I do believe this is an excellent site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am
going to revisit yet again since i have bookmarked it.
Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and
continue to help other people.
Very good article. I absolutely appreciate this website. Keep writing!
An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a friend who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this subject here on your web site.
Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.
I’m impressed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something regarding this.
This is a topic which is near to my heart... Many thanks! Where are your contact details though?
This site certainly has all the info I wanted concerning this subject and didn’t know who to ask.
This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Kudos!
I needed to thank you for this good read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…
Your style is very unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just book mark this blog.
Can I simply say what a comfort to uncover someone who genuinely understands what they are talking about on the net. You actually understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people have to check this out and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you are not more popular since you certainly possess the gift.
Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Many thanks, However I am going through issues with your RSS. I don’t know why I can't subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution will you kindly respond? Thanx!!
I quite like looking through a post that will make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!
Good day! I just would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great info you have right here on this post. I will be coming back to your web site for more soon.
Spot on with this write-up, I really think this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!
Right here is the perfect website for anybody who really wants to find out about this topic. You understand so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that's been written about for a long time. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!