U.S President Barack Obama on Thursday approved strict rules for drones strikes against terror suspects abroad thus laying out a standard for using “lethal force” outside warzones.
He added that lethal force could be used when no other alternatives exist. He defended the use of drones saying, they "have saved lives" by eliminating terrorists, and are a legal part of a "just war" against terror outfits.
However, Attorney General Eric Holder recently admitted that the government killed four Americans in different drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan bringing forward the debate.
According to the Policy guidelines released by the White House regulating the drone bombing raids; lethal force will not be used as punishment but only to prevent or stop attacks against US persons, and even then, only when capture is not feasible and no other reasonable alternatives exist to address the threat effectively.
It added that, it is simply not the case that all terrorists pose a continuing, imminent threat to US persons; if a terrorist does not pose such a threat, the United States will not use lethal force.
Before ordering lethal strikes, there must be: "near certainty" that the target is present, that civilian non-combatants will not be injured or killed, an assessment that capture is not feasible, an assessment the local government "cannot or will not effectively address the threat" and an assessment that no other "reasonable alternatives exist" to address the threat, the guidelines added.
The new procedures for lethal strikes "do not limit the president's authority to take action in extraordinary circumstances when doing so is both lawful and necessary to protect the United States or its allies," it said.
"For the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any US citizen -- with a drone, or a shotgun -- without due process. Nor should any president deploy armed drones over US soil," Obama said.
Obama added that he was open to suggestions from lawmakers for more "oversight" of the drone strikes, either by a special court or an autonomous organization within the executive branch.