Tags: Iran | John McCain | mccain | obama | iran | drone | program

McCain: Turn Drone Program Over to Defense Department

By    |   Sunday, 26 April 2015 10:17 AM

The drone program has grown so much that it should be taken out of the hands of the CIA and given to the military, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain says.

Targeting enemy combatants is "not the job of the intelligence agency, the Arizona Republican said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

McCain was responding to reports last week of a January drone strike on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that ended up killing two al-Qaida hostages, including American Warren Weinstein.

The attack was a "signature" strike, meaning it was based not on human intelligence that the base was occupied by al-Qaida, but that the activities observed there made it appear to have the signature of such a base.

"I think the thing that raises the debate, do we need to continue drone strikes, and, if so, how?" McCain told CNN. "Obviously better intelligence. We are now facing a new form of warfare, these non-state terrorists organizations that are spread all over hell's half acre, and really the only way you can get at them that we know of now that is viable is through the drone operations."

McCain blamed "turf battles" on why the CIA is still in charge of drone operations.

Even President Barack Obama has suggested Defense take over since it has more capabilities and equipment to do the job.

"I can understand when it was a small operation why it would be done by the intelligence agency, such U-2s and other reconnaissance aircraft," McCain said, "Now it reached a point where it's an integral part of the conflict and a very essential one, and it should be conducted in oversight by the Department of Defense."

Turning to the conflict in Yemen, McCain said it was wrong of the White House to deny that U.S. warships were sent to the region to block Iranian ships from supplying the Houthis, who have overtaken the U.S.-friendly government.

"I think it's ludicrous," McCain said, "part of the delusion that there will be a new U.S./Iranian alliance after the nuclear deal is consummated."

Obama should "be straight with the American people" rather than claiming U.S. ships were intending only to keep shipping lanes clear, he said.

"So much of their actions are related to this nirvana, this mirage out there that with the nuclear deal we are going to have some kind of new relationship throughout the Middle East," McCain said. "That scared the hell out of our Sunni Arab allies, and, frankly, it scares the hell out of me because they are on the move in all of these countries, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen."

McCain was asked about his recent statement that Sen. Rand Paul is the worst Republican presidential candidate when it comes to national security.

McCain's quote might "make a great Hillary Clinton campaign ad" if Rand Paul is the GOP nominee, guest host Jim Acosta suggested.

McCain said the security of the country is his first responsibility, "and Rand Paul is leading from behind."

When Acosta asked whether he would consider being Paul's running mate should he win the nomination, McCain said he wouldn't like to be anyone's running mate – and that includes his friend, Sen. Lindsey Graham.

"The vice president has two duties: One is to inquire daily as to the health of the president, and the other is to break a tie vote in the United States Senate," McCain said. "I am not interested."

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The drone program has grown so much that it should be taken out of the hands of the CIA and given to the military, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain says. Targeting enemy combatants is not the job of the intelligence agency, the Arizona Republican said...
mccain, obama, iran, drone, program
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2015-17-26
Sunday, 26 April 2015 10:17 AM
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