Raids Indicate Obama Is Souring on Drone Strikes

Official says they were trying to limit civilian casualties

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 7, 2013 12:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – The US' twin raids in Somalia and Libya are a sign that the Obama administration wants to ease off on its controversial drone strikes, and give the military a greater role in fighting terrorists, US officials tell the LA Times. While officials could have used drone-fired missiles to take out either of this weekend's targets, in both cases there would have been a high risk of civilian casualties. "They are trying to move counterterrorism operations from CIA to Defense, and trying to do less with drones," one aide says.

One senior official said there hadn't been an official policy shift, but that in response to the growing drone outcry, President Obama has been making it known that he now prefers capturing militants to killing them—a preference touted in the official National Security Council statement on the Libya raid. But special forces raids carry risks of their own, including that of US casualties. And while the AFP notes that John Boehner offered some cross-aisle praise of the raids, the conservative Heritage Foundation urged Obama to use SEALs only when necessary. "It cannot just be because it is easier, politically, to send them than to send anyone else."

In this Nov. 8, 2011 file photo, a Predator B unmanned aircraft taxis at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
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There are tremendous risks of conducting an operation in the middle of a capital, and in the past we haven't been willing to. This was a pretty gutsy thing to do. They both were. - Adam B. Schiff, House Intelligence Committee member

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