In Major Shift, Obama Will Clamp Down on Drone Strikes

Will speak today on new counterterror policies
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2013 6:59 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2013 7:49 AM CDT
Obama Looks to Scale Back Drone Strikes, Shut Gitmo
President Barack Obama meets with Myanmar's President Thein Sein in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 20, 2013.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Obama will today outline a new course against terror, including two big goals: cutting down on drone strikes and attempting, once again, to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. The speech comes after the administration yesterday admitted killing four US citizens with drones. Under new drone rules, strikes on foreign enemies will follow the same rules applied to strikes on US citizens labeled terrorists, the New York Times reports. For a strike to be authorized, targets must present "a continuing, imminent threat to Americans" and be effectively impossible to capture, Eric Holder told Congress in a letter.

Thus, "signature strikes"—drone attacks on groups based on suspected links to terror organizations—could be over, the Times notes. Such attacks have taken much heat for killing civilians. Strikes will also be shifted from CIA control into military hands. Meanwhile, the White House will again begin transferring Guantanamo detainees out of the detention center in an effort to shut it down, the Wall Street Journal reports. The plan includes an end to the ban on relocating detainees to Yemen. What else can we expect from the speech?

  • Well, pundits would love to hear a clearer definition of what constitutes a drone-worthy terrorist, notes Jon Terbush at the Week.
  • Adds his colleague Marc Ambinder: It's time for Obama to acknowledge past US mistakes and explain accountability procedures. And it wouldn't hurt to tell us al-Qaeda's status today. Click for more from Ambinder.
(Read more President Obama stories.)

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