President Barack Obama Talks Future Drone Attack Plans and Using Drones Responsibly at West Point
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that the country will continue to use drones in its fight against terrorism.
While giving the commencement speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Obama said that he will "take direct action" against terrorists with drone strikes "when necessary to protect ourselves," the Associated Press reports. He added, however, that drone attacks will only be used when there is "a near certainty" that no civilian will be harmed, a policy that he spoke of in May 2013.
"When we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion," Obama said on Tuesday. "We erode legitimacy with our partners and our people, and we reduce accountability in our own government."
According to the Associated Press, since Obama's May 2013 speech, drone attacks as well as reports of civilian deaths have decreased. Last June, however, the CIA told Congress that a drone strike killed the child brother of a targeted militant in Yemen. Obama hopes to put the military in charge of drones, which would take the role away from the CIA.
"I will increasingly turn to our military to take the lead and provide information to the public about our efforts," he said.
The CIA has conducted drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, but a drone strike has reportedly not hit Pakistan since December, which is the longest amount of time to pass between Pakistani drone attacks since Obama became president. In addition, the military's Joint Special Operations Command has ordered drones attacks of its own in Yemen and Somalia. According to Long War Journal, 12 drone attacks on Yemen have been reported this year.
Obama also assured West Point graduates of his consideration of their safety before taking any future military action.
"I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm's way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed fixing, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak," the president said.
Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.
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