President Barack Obama will do whatever is necessary to protect Americans, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told Fox News
in response to criticism about drone attacks and a so-called “kill list.”
“President Obama made clear from the start to his advisers and to the world that we were going to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the American people from harm, and particularly from a terrorist attack,” Carney said on Tuesday.
A report in The New York Times earlier Tuesday detailed such drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen — and named al Qaeda members on the list. Interviews with more than 30 current and former White House advisers were conducted for the article.
The legality of such attacks — especially where the United States is technically not at war — have drawn scrutiny, as well as the moral implications of Obama deciding whether to approve a drone strike that could kill civilians. Carney also cited White House concerns about whether the interviews posed security leaks.
Regarding any potential security breach, Carney referred to a recent speech by White House chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, who detailed the drone mission and the administration’s large counter-terrorism policy.
The Times report creates a vivid account of weekly counter-terrorism meetings in the White House Situation Room in which officials review potential targets for the remote-control drone planes, then Obama personally signs off on who will get killed or captured.
There were turning points early in Obama's term for what is considered an unprecedented and aggressive approach by a president toward dismantling al Qaeda. Reportedly weighing on the administration's deliberations were a strike in Yemen that killed civilians and an attempted Christmas 2009 attack on a U.S.-bound jet.
Deliberations also reportedly turned to the legal justification for carrying out the plans, including the fatal 2011 attack on American-born cleric and al Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki.
Republicans and other critics say Obama has chosen to kill suspected terrorists over capturing them, an approach they say was necessitated by his failure to keep a campaign pledge to develop a plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.
“Nearly three and a half years after announcing his intention to close Guantanamo prison, President Obama still hasn’t offered a plan to deal with the dangerous terrorists it holds,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Tuesday.
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