Obama Says Public Deserves To Know More On Drones

WASHINGTON (TIP): President Barack Obama saidon Thursday that Americans needed more than just hisword to be assured he was not misusing his powers inwaging a secret drone war overseas.The president was asked about the debate over thedeadly tactic, a backbone of the US campaign againstAl-Qaeda, and whether the Constitution allows the useof drones against Americans who have turned againsttheir country.”It is not sufficient for citizens to just take my wordfor it that we are doing the right thing,” Obama told anonline forum sponsored by Google.The president, who has said he is working withCongress to provide more oversight of the clandestinedrone war against Al-Qaeda, was also asked what was tostop the US government from using unmanned aerialvehicles at home.”There has never been a drone used on an Americancitizen on American soil,” Obama said in the GooglePlus “Fireside Hangout.”

“The rules outside the United States are going to bedifferent than the rules inside of the United States inpart because our capacity, for example, to captureterrorists in the United States is going to be verydifferent than in the foothills or mountains ofAfghanistan or Pakistan.Debate about the use of drones has slowly beenmounting following the September 2011 killing in Yemenof cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior Al-Qaeda operativewho was an American citizen.The president said that he was working with Congressto ensure that the public was also able to understand theconstraints and legal rationales of the US drone war.”I am not somebody who believes that the presidenthas the authority to do whatever he wants, or whatevershe wants, whenever they want, just under the guise ofcounter terrorism,” he added.

“There have to be checks and balances on it.”Some observers, including prominent senators, areconsidering whether a special court should monitor thesecret drone war.Missiles fired from unmanned aircraft have becomethe Obama administration’s weapons of choice in itswar against Al-Qaeda.The administration’s legal rationale for the targetedkillings was leaked to the media ahead of Senatehearings last week on the nomination of Obama’s topcounterterrorism adviser John Brennan to head theCIA.The guidelines allow the use of drone strikes againstUS citizens suspected of being senior Al-Qaedaoperatives, even if there is no evidence they are activelyplotting an attack.Some administration critics have questioned thelegality of drone strikes against US citizens, whileothers fear that raining death from the skies may domore harm than good in increasing anti-US sentiment.

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