News / USA

US Officially Acknowledges Drone Strike Killings

FILE- photograph of an unmanned U.S. Predator B drone, taken November 8, 2011.
FILE- photograph of an unmanned U.S. Predator B drone, taken November 8, 2011.
The Obama administration on Wednesday formally acknowledged the killing of four Americans in drone strikes. This came on the eve of a speech by President Barack Obama about the legal principles, since 2009, supporting use of drones against terrorist suspects, and about detention policies.
 
The use of drone warfare and targeted killings, including of Americans helping al-Qaida or affiliates, stirred major controversy during President Obama's first term and continues in his second.
 
After an intense review he ordered, Obama has been moving toward a major speech to provide a fuller explanation of his policies, and demonstrate he is fulfilling pledges for more transparency.
 
In his State of the Union address, he said the United States will continue to use "a range of capabilities" against terrorists, as a way to avoid sending tens of thousands of troops to confront al-Qaida and affiliates.
 
He signaled that Americans and Congress would hear more about, what he called, a "durable and legal policy framework."
 
"In the months ahead, I will continue to engage Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention, and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world," said President Obama.

Ahead of Thursday's speech, White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to discuss specifics, but said  Obama recognizes the importance of clarity and has tried to meet the high bar he set for himself on transparency.
 
"It is one around which he believes there have been and continue to be legitimate questions asked.  He is very concerned about the need to put an architecture in place that governs counterterrorism policy for now and into the future," said Carney.
 
On the eve of the speech, the Obama administration acknowledged for the first time that four American citizens have been killed in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.
 
One of those was Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical Muslim cleric killed in Yemen in 2011. The administration said three others killed, including Awlaki's son, were not "specifically targeted by the United States."
 
Attorney General Eric Holder and other administration officials have already discussed in considerable detail much of what Obama is likely to say.  
 
At Northwestern University in 2012, Holder said the U.S. government has clear legal authority to act against individuals posing an imminent lethal threat, including Americans who take up arms against the United States.
 
"When such individuals take up arms against this country, and join al-Qaida in plotting attacks designed to kill their fellow Americans, there may be only one realistic and appropriate response.  We must take steps to stop them - in full accordance with the Constitution.  In this hour of danger, we simply cannot afford to wait until deadly plans are carried out - and we will not," said Holder.

At Britain's Oxford University, then-Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson said President Obama insists that U.S. policy be based on clear legal principles.
 
"President Obama - himself a lawyer and a good one - has insisted that our efforts in pursuit of this enemy stay firmly rooted in conventional legal principles," said Johnson. "For, in our efforts to destroy and dismantle al-Qaida, we cannot dismantle our laws and our values, too."
 
On detention policy, President Obama is likely to reiterate his determination to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  
 
He has acknowledged disappointment in failing to do so during his first term, largely blaming opposition from U.S. lawmakers.
 
Laura Pitter is a counterterrorism adviser with Human Rights Watch.
 
"We're hoping that in the speech he makes clear that he is still committed to that and perhaps will start transferring some of the detainees out of that facility, especially to Yemen, where the largest majority of the detainees currently slated for release are from," said Pitter.
 
Pitter says a hunger strike by detainees, and methods used to force-feed prisoners, put the Guantanamo issue back on the political agenda ahead of Obama's speech.  
 
She says  Obama could use waiver authority to bypass some congressional restrictions on transferring detainees, and end indefinite detention without trial, but will need to re-engage with Congress.  

On drone policy, Reuters and other news organizations quoted unidentified U.S. officials as saying the Obama administration may transfer some drone operations from the CIA to the Pentagon.
 
This has been a major issue of debate within the administration.  One outcome of such a step would be opening drone operations to greater congressional scrutiny.  It is not known if Obama will announce this on Thursday.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Maria from: USA
May 22, 2013 11:52 PM
the scumbags that are targeted by our drones... are not "Americans" but Islamist scumbags who managed to fool our asylum laws... to attack us from within... or to try to tranquilize us with rhetoric of Islam is peace...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More