WASHINGTON: Department of Defense spokesperson George Little said on Tuesday that the unmanned drones and its missile strikes operated by the CIA are “lawful and precise” and that they operate within the confines of American law and policy.
In a press briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday, the DoD spokesperson was asked about the specifics of the drone program, which has drawn condemnation and even lawsuits from different international quarters, that it was currently being deployed in various countries by the US including Pakistan.
Responding to a news item in the New York Times which reported that the drone strikes, which also result in civilian casualties along with some militant deaths, were signed off by the US President per a kill list, Little said that he could not talk about the specifics of the program. But he maintained that the US could provide assurances that they avoid civilian casualties “in both counterterrorism and military operations”.
Meanwhile, at a press briefing at the White House, the WH spokesperson Jay Carney too was repeatedly questioned by reporters about the NYT article and civilian casualties from drone strikes, however he referred the press the speech made by the US chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan earlier this year, who had declared drones to be lawful.
US concerned about Shakil Afridi
Both the Pentagon and White House spokespersons were also asked about Dr Shakil Afridi, who was convicted to 33 years of imprisonment last week for helping the CIA in the hunt for Bin Laden.
George Little, the DoD spokesperson, said that the US are concerned about him. “He was not stealing Pakistani secrets, he was helping the US go after Osama Bin Laden.” He added that the Secretaries of State and Defense have made the US position on Dr Afridi known.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney, in response to the question, said “We believe and know that anyone who assisted the US in bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice was not working against Pakistan.”
He added that they believe that the doctor should not be held, and that they were consulting with the Government of Pakistan on the matter.