John Brennan on U.S Use of Targeted Strikes with Drones
You see our preference for capture in the case of Ahmed Warsame, a member of al-Shabaab who had significant ties to al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula. Last year, when we learned that he would be traveling from Yemen to Somalia, U.S. forces captured him in route and we subsequently charged him in federal court.
The reality, however, is that since 2001 such unilateral captures by U.S. forces outside of “hot” battlefields, like Afghanistan, have been exceedingly rare. This is due in part to the fact that in many parts of the world our counterterrorism partners have been able to capture or kill dangerous individuals themselves.
Moreover, after being subjected to more than a decade of relentless pressure, al-Qa’ida’s ranks have dwindled and scattered. These terrorists are skilled at seeking remote, inhospitable terrain—places where the United States and our partners simply do not have the ability to arrest or capture them. At other times, our forces might have the ability to attempt capture, but only by putting the lives of our personnel at too great a risk. Often times, attempting capture could subject civilians to unacceptable risks. There are many reasons why capture might not be feasible, in which case lethal force might be the only remaining option to address the threat and prevent an attack.