News / USA

Obama Outlines Limits on Drone Use in Counterterrorism War

Obama Outlines Counterterrorism Policyi
X
May 24, 2013 11:03 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States has won major battles in the war on terror, but that no president can promise to put an end to it. In a major speech Thursday, Mr. Obama unveiled his plans for fighting radicalized individuals as well as terrorist networks worldwide. Republican senators were quick to criticize the president's plan. Zlatica Hoke has the story.
Obama Outlines Counterterrorism Policy
In a major address at the National Defense University in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama has given a framework for ongoing counterterrorism efforts, including the use of drones in direct lethal action against terrorists.  
 
The hourlong speech was Mr. Obama's most expansive effort yet to define threats that al-Qaida and "associated forces" pose to the United States, define how the U.S. responds, and outline limitations on such action.

Related video report by Luis Ramirez
For US, No Turning Back on Dronesi
X
May 24, 2013 12:31 AM
In his speech Thursday, President Obama defended his administration's use of drones, saying they are the safest way to wage war on terrorists. The administration's use of drones has come under criticism, especially after Wednesday's revelations by the US government that US drone strikes have killed four American citizens in Yemen and Pakistan since 2009. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
As the U.S. ends its military involvement in Afghanistan, he said al-Qaida's "core" in Afghanistan and Pakistan is "on a path to defeat."  He said there have been no large-scale attacks on the United States. 
 
Obama said other threats have emerged, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), along with other localized groups, and radicalized individuals in the U.S.
 
Obama said the U.S. prefers to help build the capacity of partners such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia to act against extremist networks.  
 
He said that when governments cannot stop terrorism on their territory, lethal targeted action, including with drones, is required, but must be held to rigorous standards.
 
"America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists - our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute them.  America cannot take strikes wherever we choose - our actions are bound by consultations with partners, and respect for state sovereignty," he sid. 
 
Obama called the use of drones effective, saying they have disrupted many plots, and that they are legal, noting America was attacked on September 11, 2001.
 
But he acknowledged that the new technology raises "profound questions" and the risk of "creating new enemies." 
 
"As our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion.  To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.  For the same human progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world away also demands the discipline to constrain that power - or risk abusing it," he said. 
 
Obama also spoke about the legality of targeting Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and radical Muslim cleric who was among four Americans killed by drones since 2009.
 
"When a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America - and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens, and when neither the United States, nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot - his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a swat team," he said. 
 
Obama did not announce any steps to transfer additional authority for drone operations from the CIA to the Defense Department.  But a policy document he signed expresses a preference that the U.S. military has a lead role in the use of force "outside of war zones." 
 
Professor Ken Anderson, from American University Washington College of Law, says the speech, which also covered detention policies, probably achieved a key objective.
 
"I think that it represented an understanding by the Obama administration in its second term that it has to reach out to Congress on a wide variety of issues that range from Guantanamo to drone strikes to other things, and that it needs to find ways in which to institutionalize and make an acceptable part of the permanent national security tool set of the United States, not just for this president but into the future," he said. 
 
President Obama said the U.S. must define counterterrorism efforts not as a boundless global war on terror but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific extremist networks.
 
The president plans to re-engage with Congress on drone policy.  He ordered a review of proposals such as establishing a special court to evaluate and authorize lethal action.
 
He also wants the congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force, (AUMF) that Congress approved after the September 11, 2001 al-Qaida attacks, to be refined, and ultimately repealed.  He said the U.S. must "discipline" its thinking so it is not drawn into more wars it does not need to fight.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Michael from: USA
May 24, 2013 8:03 AM
Counterterrorism tries to be effective. Worry over threats to citizens block out the lucid view faith teaches: do good works. Drones are a product of excessive anxiety which blocks out striving through faith-based religions

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
May 24, 2013 12:16 AM
Excellent speech, good way forward, let us hope it all works out. The one minor point, is that the view of the US, by anti - Western extremist/anti-democracy/anti-free enterprise, pro-communists, pro-nazis, pro-totaliarism, pro anarchy.. etc, came about long before Pres Obama, or the creation of UAVs, or the war on terrorism; it started when the US become a world economic and military power; so any one blaming Pres. Obama is out to lunch, and probably falls into one of the anti- or pro groups mentioned.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs