White House senior counterterrorism adviser John Brennan has tried to justify proliferating drone strikes in Islamic countries this week as a legitimate reaction to the threat posed by the September 11 attacks more than a decade ago. “These targeted strikes are legal," Brennan said in an April 30 speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, citing Obama Justice Department legal opinions. "As a matter of international law, the United States is in an armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces, in response to the 9/11 attacks, and we may also use force consistent with our inherent right of national self-defense."
Brennan was also brought to task for claiming that the drone strikes had yet to kill innocent people by ABC's George Stephanopoulos on the This Week program April 29, and forced to back off:
Stephanopoulos: And do you stand by the statement you have made in the past that, as effective as they have been, they have not killed a single civilian? That seems hard to believe.
John Brennan: Well, what I said was that over a period of time before my public remarks that we had no information about a single civilian, a noncombatant being killed. Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including among the civilian population. We've done everything possible in Afghanistan and other areas to reduce any risk to that civilian population.
The Obama administration, which drastically expanded the Bush-era drone strike campaign, has actually done very little to reduce risks to the civilian population.
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Photo: John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, speaks in Washington: AP Images