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House Armed Services Chair McKeon: Drone program ‘fully within the law’

"We have American citizens that have tried to kill Americans, and I think when they do that, they give up some of their rights," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., told Fox News on Sunday about the United States' drone-strike policy.

The Justice Department and White House last week defended the use of unmanned drones to kill American citizens thought to be involved with Al Qaeda or other terror-related forces.

Congress is also considering creating a special court to oversee the Obama administration's drone-assassination program.

But not all of Congress is on board with the idea of special court.

"I don't think we should hand cuff ourselves when people are trying to kill us. I would rather take them out first before we put our people in jeopardy," McKeon told Fox's "America's News HQ."

It was only 18 months ago when a drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American born Islamic militant.

But Congress was denied access to the legal memos authorizing the strike until this past week, when the issue resurfaced during the confirmation hearing of John Brennan for director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

"I never believed it's better to kill a terrorist than to detain them," Brennan said.

McKeon maintains the military is performing the drone strikes as an act of war and doing what is necessary to fight terror.

"We have an attorney standing behind the weapons officer that approves any weapons fired," he said. "So we're fully within the law and functioning. We're at war. And whatever we can do to take out the enemy, I think we should do it."

In Congress, McKeon has worked to establish the Unmanned Systems Caucus, a group on Capitol Hill advocating for drones in the U.S. defense program.

With the sequester deadline less than a month away, McKeon has spoken out on the potential impact that the massive federal spending cuts could have on national security and defense, in addition to the drone program.

"I was stunned at the president's silence on national security risks and I am frustrated that he continues to look to our men and women in uniform to pay the cost of America's debt crisis," he released in a statement. "After all, it is their lives that are at greater risks today, because of the cuts already imposed."

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