Obama Adviser Discusses Using Military on Terrorists

Charlie Savage
The New York Times

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — John O. Brennan, the top counter-terrorism adviser to President Obama, on Friday defended a broad conception of where the United States can use military force against members of Al Qaeda and its allies.

Mr. Brennan also denounced a proposal in Congress to mandate military detention of terrorism suspects — even those captured on United States soil. His remarks were part of a speech on the Obama administration’s counterterrorism policy and the rule of law, delivered before a conference at Harvard Law School.

Mr. Brennan’s remarks about the ability to use military force came against the backdrop of a debate, reported on Friday by The New York Times, between lawyers at the State Department and the Pentagon over the limits of military force in places like Yemen and Somalia.

In that region, the State Department has argued, the United States may — as a matter of self-defense — lawfully kill high-level militants who are involved in plots to attack the United States, but not low-level militants who are focused on parochial concerns. The Defense Department has argued that it can attack members of Al Qaeda and its allies, although the dispute has remained latent so far because the policy has been to strike at only “high-value individuals.”

In his speech, Mr. Brennan initially suggested that he leaned toward the Pentagon’s view of the legal question, although subsequently made more ambiguous comments…

The article continues at The New York Times.

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