Drone strikes are `legal ethical and wise`: US

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 18:03

Washington: The US has defended its drone strikes against the al-Qaeda and Taliban in countries like Pakistan, saying the use of unmanned aircraft is "legal, ethical and wise" to prevent future terror attacks and save American lives.

"We have acknowledged that sometimes we use remotely piloted aircraft to conduct targeted strikes against specific al Qaeda terrorists in order to prevent attacks on the United States and to save American lives," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

"We conduct those strikes because they are necessary to mitigate ongoing actual threats, to stop plots, prevent future attacks, and, again, save American lives. These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise. The US government takes great care in deciding to pursue an al Qaeda terrorist, to ensure precision and to avoid loss of innocent life," Carney said.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) regularly conducts drone strikes against terrorists in countries like Yemen and Pakistan, where five suspected militants were killed and several others injured today when a US drone targeted a compound in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region.

Carney said the Congress has authorised the use of all necessary military force in the fight against al-Qaeda.

"What you have in general with al Qaeda senior leadership is a continuing process of plotting against the US and American citizens, plotting attacks against the US and American citizens. I think that`s fairly irrefutable." Carney said.

"What you also have is the authorisation for the use of military force by Congress. You also have a President who is very mindful of the very questions that you are asking and is, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, taking all the necessary steps to ensure that he fulfils his constitutional obligation to protect the US and its citizens, and does so in a way that comports with our Constitution and with our laws," he said in response to a question.

Carney argued that someone who takes up arms against the United States is an enemy, and therefore could be targeted accordingly.

US drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere have been facing increasing scrutiny and questions from human rights groups.

"That`s I think established in a number of cases. So having said that, the issues here are important and the President recognises that. That`s why he has authorised various senior administration officials to discuss publicly these issues the way that they have, and why I believe that process will continue," said the White House Press Secretary.

Meanwhile, Pakistan`s ambassador to the United States on blasted the Obama administration for continued drone strikes in Fata, calling the violation a "red line" that should not be crossed.

At a meeting with the Christian Science Monitor staff, Sherry Rehman said that drones strikes were "a clear violation of our sovereignty and a violation of international law" that threatened stable relations between the two governments.

She rejected persistent media reports that Pakistan tacitly approved the strikes while denouncing them publicly as untrue.

"Let me assure you that since we have been in government, there has been no quiet complicity, no question of wink and nod," she said.

Rehman argued that the drone strategy "creates more potential terrorists on the ground and militants on the ground instead of taking them out".

"We need to drain the swamp, but instead it is radicalising people," she said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 09:22

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