Rumsfeld to Newsmax: Military, Not Presidents, Should Engage in Targeted Kills
Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tells Newsmax that the targeted killing of terrorist targets chosen by the president “is not a particularly good idea.”
“I think the use of drones is a good thing. They have added a dimension of capability to the United States that other nations don’t have. They also have the advantage of putting fewer American lives at risk.
“But we have a president of the United States who sits in the Oval Office and is targeting individuals in other countries to be killed. During the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson did some targeting. I’ve never believed that having the president of the United States engaged in specific targeting is a particularly good idea. They’re not trained for it.
“They need to establish policy and then allow the responsible military officials or CIA officials to actually undertake the decision-making on specific targets.”
Rumsfeld adds: “The criticism that was heaped on Guantanamo Bay and the detention of people is clearly [less warranted] compared to targeted killing.
"Guantanamo Bay is one of the best prisons on earth, and people are not killed there and not tortured. They are detained and kept off the battlefield because we don’t want them going out and killing more innocent men, women, and children.
“Killing people has the disadvantage, which President Obama has to accept, that if you use drone strikes you don’t have the advantage of going in and gathering intelligence information, which is enormously important.”
To see the exclusive excerpt of Donald Rumsfeld discussing drones, click below:
The use of drone strikes, which have killed more than 1,300 people in Pakistan alone since Obama took office, has become a foreign policy headache for the president.
After a new report indicated his involvement in methodically choosing the controversial targets, the president has come under fire from human rights groups who say the administration should reveal the criteria used in the top-secret process.
The most notable of the targeted killings was that of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who was involved in multiple terror plots since 9/11.
He was killed in a joint strike by a drone and U.S. fighter jets on his convoy as he traveled through a mountainous part of Yemen last year.
The administration's position was seen as yet another effort to boost Obama's foreign policy credentials during an election year.
"He's a president who is quite comfortable with the use of force on behalf of the U.S.," said Tom Donilon, national security adviser.