If you happened to miss President Obama’s national security speech last Thursday as you prepared for the holiday weekend or sat through news reports focused more on the President responding to a heckler; you may have missed the purpose of the speech. Here is a brief review of the key points you should know.
- The president did not fully advocate for new powers for federal courts to oversee drone strikes. He did however, support and encourage dialogue within the government about how to limit the executive branch’s influence over targets. It was suggested by officials that there may be a preference for the creation of an oversight model, patterned much like the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which oversees surveillance of suspected foreign spies.
- The President further indicated his willingness to work with Congress to review options that could accommodate further oversight.
- Announcement of a new policy guidance the President signed, limiting the use of lethal drone strikes to targets who pose a “continuing, imminent threat to Americans” and cannot otherwise be captured.
- A drone strike will now require “near-certainty” that civilians will not be killed before proceeding.
- The speech also signaled the President’s concern that drone strikes are no longer carried out by the CIA and this responsibility be handed over to the U.S. military instead.
- Congressional leaders were made aware of drone strikes carried out by the administration.
- The President renewed his initiative to close the Guantanamo Bay prison holding 166 prisoners and to take additional steps in moving the process forward more rapidly.
- Selection of a location in the United States to conduct military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees.
- Removal of a temporary ban on detainee transfers to Yemen that the President himself established.
- Appointment of the State Department and Pentagon to manage the transfer of detainees to other countries.
- The President called for all other detainees to be placed in U.S. prisons after trial, making the case that the U.S. currently has many prisoners already being held domestically without incident.
The war on terrorism:
- The President announced that the War on Terror will soon end when efforts to overcome al Qaeda and its affiliates is complete, however acknowledging that the world can never completely eliminate terrorist acts.