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US Drone War in Pakistan: Gov Speeches

This database was developed by Maliha Ali '15 at Bennington College, as a resource for fact-checking and archiving the claims, research and data about US drone policy and its impact in Pakistan and beyond.


President Obama Apologises for Hostages Killed in Counterterrorism Operations (Apr 23, 2015)

"I want to express our grief and condolences to the families of two hostages—one American, Dr. Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto—who were tragically killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation. As president and as commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni. I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families." President Barack Obama

President Obama on Counterterrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy (National Defense University) (May 23, 2013)

“As was true in previous armed conflicts, this new technology raises profound questionsabout who is targeted, and why; about civilian casualties, and the risk of creating new enemies; about the legality of such strikes under U.S. and international law; about accountability and morality. So let me address these questions...America does not take strikes to punish individuals; we act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people, and when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat. And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured the highest standard we can set.” President Barack Obama

John Brennan (Woodrow Wilson Center) (Apr 30, 2012)

“Targeted strikes are ethical…Targeted strikes conform to the principle of necessity…Targeted strikes conform to the principle of distinction…Targeted strikes conform to the principle of proportionality…Targeted strikes conform to the principle of humanity…Targeted strikes are wise.” John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Harold Koh: “How to End the Forever War?” (Oxford Union) (May 7, 2013)

"I am sometimes asked, “as a human rights advocate, how could you criticize torture, while as a government lawyer, you defended the legality of drones?”...Some mistakenly think of drones as inherently evil, even though they are a weapon that if precisely and accurately targeted, could be far more discriminate and lawful than such inherently indiscriminate weapons as chemical weapons or nuclear bombs." —Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Adviser, US Department of State 

John Brennan: "Ensuring al-Qa'ida's Demise" (Johns Hopkins University) (June 29, 2011)

“One of the things that president Obama has been insisted on is that we are exceptionally precise and surgical in terms of addressing the terrorist threat. By that I mean, if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, we do not take such action that might put those innocent young men and women and children in danger…I can tell you about the operations that the U.S. has been involved in in the past year, there has not been a single collateral death.” John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Eric Holder (Northwestern University School of Law) (Mar 5, 2012)

"Some have called such operations “assassinations.” They are not, and the use of that loaded term is misplaced. Assassinations are unlawful killings. Here, for the reasons I have given, the U.S. government’s use of lethal force in self defense against a leader of al Qaeda or an associated force who presents an imminent threat of violent attack would not be unlawful—and therefore would not violate the Executive Order banning assassination or criminal statutes." —Eric Holder, Attorney General

Harold Koh: “The Obama Administration and International Law” (American Society of International Law) (Mar 25, 2010)

"Some have argued that the use of lethal force against specific individuals fails to provide adequate process and thus constitutes unlawful extrajudicial killing. But a state that is engaged in an armed conflict or in legitimate self-defense is not required to provide targets with legal process before the state may use lethal force. Our procedures and practices for identifying lawful targets are extremely robust, and advanced technologies have helped to make our targeting even more precise." —Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Adviser, US Department of State 


PM Nawaz Sharif on U.S.-Pakistan Relations (US Institute of Peace) (Oct 22, 2013)

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is, however, the matter of drone strikes, which are deeply disturbed and agitated our people. In my first statement to the parliament, I made a strong commitment to ending the attacks. Both parties in a national conference have declared that the use of drones is not only a continued violation of our territorial integrity, but also detrimental to our resolve and efforts at eliminating terrorism from our country. This issue has become a major irritant in our bilateral relationship as well. I would therefore stress the need for an end to drone attacks.” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif