In a major address on defense policy, President Obama said the war on terror is shifting and laid out new rules for drone strikes. He also proposed new plans for some Guantánamo Bay detainees.
America is “at a crossroads” in its fight against terrorism, President Obama declared Thursday, as he announced new guidelines narrowing the use of drones to target terror suspects, and renewed his effort to close the US detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Beyond Afghanistan, where the US combat mission is winding down, “we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America,” Mr. Obama said in a major address at the National Defense University in Washington.
“Now make no mistake: Our nation is still threatened by terrorists,” the president continued. “From Benghazi to Boston, we have been tragically reminded of that truth. But we recognize that the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11.”
Obama announced that on Wednesday, he signed a Presidential Policy Guidance that constrains the use of unmanned drone aircraft in countries that are not theaters of war. Beyond the Afghan theater, he said, the US only targets Al Qaeda and its associated forces. But even there, the use of drones is curtailed: The US must seek to capture a suspect when it has that ability.