WASHINGTON — President Obama on Thursday announced new restraints on targeted killings and narrowed the scope of the long struggle with terrorists as part of a transition to a day he envisions when the nation will no longer be on the war footing it has been on since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
In a widely anticipated speech at the National Defense University, Mr. Obama offered his most expansive defense of the drone war he has waged since taking office, but he signaled that he planned to wind down the strikes, which have stirred controversy at home and abroad. He referred obliquely to a new secret order imposing a higher standard on authorizing such attacks and shifting responsibility more from the C.I.A. to the military.
Beyond that, Mr. Obama proposed the creation of a secret court or some other independent body that would have to sign off on strikes in the future. He also called on Congress to revise the authorization of force it passed in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to reflect the changing nature of the war on terrorism. And he renewed his moribund effort to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by saying that he would lift a moratorium on transferring scores of detainees to Yemen.