News / USA

White House Responds to Report on Obama's Role in Targeted Killings

An undated U.S. Air Force image shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. An undated U.S. Air Force image shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft.
x
An undated U.S. Air Force image shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft.
An undated U.S. Air Force image shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft.
TEXT SIZE - +
The White House responded Tuesday to a major U.S. newspaper report about President Barack Obama's role in the U.S. war against al-Qaida, including decisions to place suspected terrorists on a list of people to be killed.  

In a report published Tuesday, The New York Times newspaper said that since he came to office, Mr. Obama has assumed an unprecedented role in personally overseeing a "shadow war" against al-Qaida, including making final decisions whether to place individuals on a "kill list."

The newspaper cited dozens of current and former U.S. officials and Obama administration advisers who were interviewed for the report, who confirmed the existence of the list of al-Qaida suspects who can be targeted for attack by unmanned aircraft.

President Obama significantly increased the use of drones to strike terrorist targets in Pakistan.  Use of the aircraft also has increased in Yemen, where the United States has directed military support to help the government fight al-Qaida-backed forces.

The New York Times report said Mr. Obama personally approves drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, and decides whether to attack a terror suspect when the suspect's family is present.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama has made clear the United States will take whatever steps are necessary to protect Americans, but act in a manner that is "lawful and consistent" with U.S. values.

Carney was asked about a specific aspect of the report, involving what The New York Times said was a method that counts all men of military age in a strike zone as militants, unless there is intelligence to the contrary.

“This president's first priority is the protection of the United States, the protection of the citizens of this country," said Carney. "And he takes that responsibility enormously seriously, and that is why he has pursued the fight against al-Qaida in the very direct way that he has.  He also believes very strongly in the need to avoid civilian casualties in the pursuit of that objective."

Carney directed reporters several times to a speech earlier this year by John Brennan, President Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, focusing U.S. efforts to avoid civilian casualties.

The president's spokesman said the United States is able to pursue al-Qaida in a way that "significantly reduces the potential for and the fact of" civilian casualties.  However, Carney declined to go into the specifics of the process by which decisions are made.

Carney was also pressed about the legal justification for the existence of the "kill list" described by The New York Times, and was asked about secrecy regarding the matter.

He said Mr. Obama's "capacity" to go after members of al-Qaida was well-established in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by the U.S. Congress after the 2001 al-Qaida attacks on the United States.

The United States, Carney said, has held itself to the highest possible standards as to the execution of counterterrorism operations, while using tools to avoid civilian casualties.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid