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Obama To Deliver Speech On Counterterrorism Policies, Use Of Drones

Obama To Deliver Speech On Counterterrorism Policies, Use Of Drones
5/20/2013 2:13 PM ET

President Barack Obama reportedly plans to deliver a much-anticipated speech on Thursday outlining his administration's evolving counterterrorism policies.

Multiple news sources cited a White House official as saying that Obama will address the use of drones and plans to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in a speech at the National Defense University.

The upcoming speech is seen as the long-awaited follow-through on remarks in Obama's State of the Union address in which he promised to provide additional transparency regarding efforts to thwart potential terrorist attacks.

"I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word for it that we're doing things the right way," Obama said in his State of the Union address in February.

He added, "So in the months ahead, I will continue to engage Congress to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and to the world."

The use of drones made headlines earlier this year, when a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the military could carry out drone strikes against suspected terrorists inside the United States in "an extraordinary circumstance."

However, Holder later clarified in a separate letter to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ken., that the president does not have the authority to use a drone to kill a U.S. citizen not engaged in combat on American soil.

Concerns about the use of drones were initially raised by news that American-born terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki was killed a drone strike in Yemen in September of 2011.

The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has also made news recently, as a large number of the detainees have staged a lengthy hunger strike.

In a news conference late last month, Obama said he continues to believe that the detention facility at Guantanamo should be closed.

"I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe," Obama said. "It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed." "I've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively," he added. "And I'm going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the American people. And it's not sustainable."

by RTT Staff Writer

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