WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama will pursue a strategy that protects the United States and Americans, his press secretary said to a question on drone strikes.
At his daily briefing to reporters Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about the intensifying drone strikes even as U.S. forces in Afghanistan return home and about Obama's comment that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.
Carney said Obama will continue to pursue a strategy that protects the country, the American people, American men and women overseas in a way "consistent with our values."
He said, however, there was no question after more than a decade of war, there is a new phase in the effort to combat al-Qaida and its affiliates and like-minded extremists who threaten the United States and its allies.
"But the president is very clear-eyed and understanding of the fact that that threat remains," Carney said.
"Even as we have done great damage to al-Qaida central, to the core al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we are dealing with al-Qaida affiliates in different parts of the region and the world, and we will continue to have to deal with them, working with our partners to make sure that those threats are contained and that we continue the president's overarching goal, when it comes to al-Qaida, which is its disruption, dismantlement, and ultimate defeat."
Separately, Fox News reported there have been suggestions the United States open a new front in the drone campaign in North Africa because of the rising threat of terrorism there.
The report cited the president's public statement and quoted critics as saying it was not line with a counter-terrorism manual his administration reportedly has prepared to set standards for using drones.
"Here you have a secret playbook, a secret set of rules on how the president himself is going to make decisions on who to kill and who lives and who dies, including United States citizens," Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Fox News.
"And then you have a complete exception to the CIA use of drones in Pakistan. So how is that not endless war and how is that compliance with the rule of law?"
Fox News quoted U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, as saying there seemed to be no real drone strategy. He said his briefings along with new images from the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist Web messages, suggest al-Qaida in North Africa is in possession of weapons from Libya. The report said neighboring Mali is also under threat from al-Qaida.
"I do think as we wind down in Afghanistan and Pakistan that some of this technology, Special Forces ... some of the drones, should be redirected to this Northern Africa front," McCaul told Fox News.
The report said the CIA or the National Security Council did not immediately respond for comment on the administration manual or on the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan.