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So it is in this context.
That the United States has taken lethal.
Against al-Qaeda and its associated forces.
Including whip remotely piloted aircraft commonly referred to -- drops.
As was true in previous armed conflicts.
This new technology raises profound questions.
About who is targeted -- -- About civilian casualties and the risk of creating new enemies.
About the legality of such strikes under US and international law.
Let me address these questions.
To begin with a our actions are affected.
Don't take my word for.
In the intelligence gathered at bin Laden's compound we found that but he wrote we could lose the reserves.
To enemy's air strikes.
We cannot fight airstrikes would explosives.
Other communications from -- -- operatives confirm this as well.
Dozens of highly skilled -- Qaeda commanders trainers bomb makers and operatives have been taken off the battlefield.
Have been disrupted the would have targeted international aviation.
US transit systems European cities and our troops in Afghanistan.
Simply put these strikes have saved lives.
America's actions are legal.
We were attacked on 9/11.
Within a week congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force.
Under domestic law and international law the United States is at war with al-Qaeda.
The -- -- and they're associated forces.
War -- organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could.
If we did not stop them first.
-- this is a just war.
A war waged proportionally.
In last resort and in self defense.
And yet as are quite enters a new phrase.
America's legitimate claim of self defense.
Cannot be the end of the discussion.
To -- military tactic of legal.
Or even -- -- There's not to say it is wise.
Or moral in every instance.
For the same progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world away it also demands the discipline to constrain that -- Or risk abusing.
That's why -- over the last four years.
My administration has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists.
Insisting -- clear guidelines.
Oversight and accountability that is now codified.
And presidential policy guidance that I signed yesterday.
In the Afghan war theater.
We must and will continue to support our troops until the transition is complete at the end of 4014.
And that means we will continue to take strikes against high value al-Qaeda targets.
But also against forces there -- the support attacks on coalition forces.
But by the end of forty -- We will no longer have the same need for Force Protection.
And the progress we've made against core al-Qaeda will reduce the need for -- -- strikes.
The Afghan theater.
We only target al-Qaeda and its associated forces.
And even -- that the use of drones is heavily constrained.
America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists.
Our preference is always to detain.
Interrogate and prosecute.
America cannot take strikes wherever we choose.
Our actions are bound by consultations with partners and respect for state sovereign.
America does not take strikes to punish individuals we act against terrorists who pose a continuing.
An imminent threat to the American people.
And when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat.
And before any strike -- -- There must be near certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.
The highest standard we can set.
And this last point is critical because much of the criticism about drone strikes.
-- here at home and -- brought.
Understandably senators on reports of civilian casualties.
There's wide gap.
Between US assessments of such casualties and non governmental reports.
It is a hard fact.
That US strikes have resulted in civilian casualties.
A risk that exists.
In every war.
For the families of those civilians no words or legal construct.
Can justify their Waltz.
For me and those in my chain of command.
On us as long as we look.
Just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred throughout conventional fighting in Afghanistan.
But as commander in chief I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives.
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