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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs