WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Thursday demanded that the Justice Department stop using drones as a tool in its counterterrorism efforts and called for Congress to pass legislation that would limit their use.
In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Obama reiterated his call for Congress and the White House to pass new laws that would codify existing restrictions on drones.
But he noted that the FBI’s use of drones to kill U.S. citizens in foreign countries was “very rare.”
“We have not seen this type of use of a drone in decades, let alone in this decade,” Obama said.
“And we have to make sure that we don’t make it harder to defend ourselves and we don, in fact, make it easier for terrorists to attack us.”
The president also said the FBI has a lot of work to do to understand what happened during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, adding that he had been briefed on the findings of a joint investigation into the incident.
“What we know is that the United States has been under an extraordinary amount of pressure in this country for decades to prevent the terrorists from attacking the United.
States, and to do that we have a lot more work to be done, but the president is hopeful that we can do that,” Obama told MSNBC.
The FBI is currently investigating the attack on the World Trade Center, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
The Justice Department and the FBI declined to comment on the president’s remarks, but a Justice Department spokesman said, “The Department of Justice and the U.N. Security Council are reviewing the president`s comments and will make the appropriate response.”
The U.K. government has also come under criticism for using drones to target suspected terrorists in foreign nations.
In September, a U.k. court found that a drone strike in Afghanistan killed the son of the leader of the Taliban, but it did not authorize the government to use the drones against suspects in the U., U.Y. or the Uighur communities.
A British parliamentary committee said last week that the drone program is illegal, a sentiment that has not changed much with the president.
On Thursday, a senior law enforcement official told MSNBC that the president has not suggested the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists, adding, “It’s hard to imagine that he`s going to say that.”
The official said the president did not want to give the impression that his administration is going to use any of its limited resources to conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists.
The official also noted that some lawmakers have raised concerns that the use will give terrorists more leverage to recruit others to join their cause.