White House Counterterror Adviser Defends Drone Use

John Brennan, the White House’s Chief Counterterrorism adviser, defended the U.S. reliance on drones Monday, stating that the use of the unmanned vehicles is not just legal, but also moral.

By Gabriella Landeros

John Brennan, the White House’s Chief Counterterrorism adviser, defended the U.S. reliance on drones Monday, stating that the use of the unmanned vehicles is not just legal, but also moral.

“Targeted strikes conform to the principle of humanity which requires us to use weapons that will not inflict unnecessary suffering,” Brennan said during remarks before the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington, D.C. based think-tank. “It is hard to imagine a tool that can better minimize the risk to civilians than remotely piloted aircraft.”

Brennan added that the scope of the threat also justified the pattern of targeted strikes.

“Despite the great progress we’ve made against al-Qa’ida, it would be a mistake to believe this threat has passed. Al-Qa’ida and its associated forces still have the intent to attack the United States,” Brennan said.

Brennan went on to address the most contested examples of drone use, the strike against American-born extremist Anwar al-Awlaki.

“We have seen lone individuals, including American citizens- often inspired by al-Qa’ida’s murderous ideology- kill innocent Americans and seek to do us harm.”

The use of drones, which has multiplied under the Obama administration, has proven to be controversial. In Pakistan particularly, where their presence is prevalent, the officials have become increasingly frustrated, citing inadvertent civilian deaths.

The issue has also riled some human rights activists on American soil, exemplified during Brennan’s speech by a “Code Pink” activist who disrupted the remarks.

While Brennan argued that their use was primarily just, he acknowledged that it was not necessarily a clear-cut issue.

“If anyone in government who works in this area tells you they haven’t struggled with this, then they haven’t spent much time thinking about it,” Brennan said. “I know I have, and I will continue to struggle with it as long as I remain involved in counterterrorism.”

 

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