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Support from Above

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Washington, August 17, 2011 | comments

A year ago, I gave then-CIA Director Leon Panetta praise for fending off the ACLU’s criticism of the effort to target Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born terrorist operating out of Yemen.

The now Defense Secretary is back again, injected some words of common sense into the debate over Predator drone strikes.

His high-level words of support come at a critical time, as debate over the drone strikes has picked-up following Osama bin Laden’s death. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that the White House National Security Council conducted a high-level debate over the pace of the strikes. And over the weekend, President Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence sharply criticized the campaign from above in a New York Times oped.

According to the Journal, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan is pushing for more "judicious" use of the drone attacks. That’s counter to the advice my subcommittee heard during a hearing on "The Future of Al-Qaeda," where terrorism experts cited the drones as key.

According to one unnamed U.S. official, "the phrase ‘more judicious’ is really code for ‘let’s appease Pakistani sensitivities.’" Luckily, the SecDef isn’t having any of it. When asked about the debate yesterday, Panetta replied:

"We’re defending our country… They’re terrorists. And the operations that we’ve conducted there have been very effective at undermining al-Qaeda and their ability to plan those kinds of attacks…Those suggesting somehow that this is a good time to pull back are wrong. This is a good time to keep putting the pressure on."


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