Carney: US drone strikes ‘precise,’ ‘lawful’

The White House pushed back on Tuesday against reports from two human rights groups accusing the Obama administration of launching drone strikes that killed dozens of civilians and violated international law. [WATCH VIDEO]

Carney said the White House strongly disagrees with the assessments from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan violated international law.

“To the extent these reports claim that the U.S. has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree,” Carney said at Tuesday’s White House press briefing.

“The administration has repeatedly emphasized the
extraordinary care that we take to make sure counterterrorism actions are in
accordance with all applicable law,” he said.

{mosads}Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International each released a report Tuesday documenting specific drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan
that occurred from 2009-2013 under the Obama administration.

Amnesty International found 29 civilians had been killed in
the nine Pakistan strikes it investigated, while Human Rights Watch said 57
civilians were among the 82 killed in six Yemen strikes.

The Human Rights Watch report said two of the six Yemen
strikes were “in clear violation of international humanitarian law — the laws
of war — because they struck only civilians or used indiscriminate weapons.”

Carney said that the White House was “reviewing these
reports carefully,” and noted that President Obama acknowledged some civilian
casualties had occurred in his May counterterrorism speech.

“U.S. counterterrorism operations are precise, they are
lawful, and they are effective, and the United States does not take lethal
strikes when we or our partners have the ability to capture individual
terrorists,” Carney said.

“We take mindful of the absolute need to limit civilian
casualties and to, in this case, reach a standard of near certainty that no
civilians will be killed or injured, which is the highest standard we or any
country could set,” he added.

Carney declined, however, to speak about specific operations
or strikes.


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