Obama Announces Changes in Drone, Counter-Terrorism Policy



Mike O'Brien
05/23/2013

President Obama announced he is narrowing the scope of drone attacks and the battle against terrorists in a speech at the National Defense University on Thursday.

He defended the controversial use of drone strikes for the first time in public but said he wind down the amount of attacks.

Mr. Obama also said the U.S. must eventually transition away from the war footing stance it adopted post 9/11.

There will be stricter, more stringent methods of authorizing such aerial attacks and responsibility for drones will be transferred from the CIA to the Pentagon.

He also spoke of a new, secret court that would have to sign off on drone strikes in the future.

Congress needs to revise the authorization of force it passed in the aftermath of 9/11 to reflect how the fight against terrorism has changed, he said.

He re-affirmed his commitment to closing the prison at Guantânamo Bay, Cuba, and added that he would lift the ban on transferring more than 50 detainees to back to their native Yemen.

The policy shifts are a clear indication that Mr. Obama wants to move the country away from the perpetual war on terrorism.

He called for a more limited campaign against particular groups that would eventually be curtailed, even though he admitted threat of terrorism could never be eliminated.

Mr. Obama said: "Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America."

His speech came one day after the administration formally acknowledged for the first time that it had killed four American citizens in drone strikes outside the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

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