Menu

Politics

Concerns raised about fewer US drone strikes amid continuing terror attacks

 

The number of U.S. drone strikes appears to have dropped significantly over the past several months while terrorists have staged dozens of attacks, a trend raising concerns for the top House Republican on national intelligence.

New statistics from the West Point Counterterroism Center show more than 60 terror attacks across the world since July 1 -- most recently, the attack at a Kenya mall last weekend in which more than 60 people were killed.

Meanwhile, the number of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen – the hotbed for Al Qaeda and other terror groups -- appears to have decreased significantly over roughly the same period.

The publication The Long War Journal reports a total of 22 strikes since May in those countries.

The apparent trend of fewer strikes amid perceptions of a weakened Al Qaeda and diminished terror threats is drawing concern from Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“It's not diminishing,” the Michigan Republican told Fox News on Tuesday. “There have been counterterrorism changes made by the administration that have concerned us all, things that we've been working on for a period of months that we're trying to work through that are very, very concerning. This is no time to retreat.”

The White House has not commented on the apparent decrease in drone strikes but has referred reporters to President Obama’s May 23 speech at the National Defense University in which he discussed the county’s evolving efforts to combat the war on terror.

The president said the United States will continue to “dismantle [terror] networks that pose a direct danger to us” but can no longer define its efforts as a “boundless global war on terror.”

He said the fight is entering a “new phase” in which legal and necessary drone strikes will be more narrowly focused to avoid civilian casualties and backlash in Pakistan and neighboring countries.

“By narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life,” Obama said.

Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal’s managing editor, said on Wednesday that the speech shows the administration “has a very narrow view of what makes up Al Qaeda and believes that killing a handful of legacy leaders involved in 9/11 will cause the collapse of the group.”

The magazine reports the number of recent strikes in Pakistan as: one in May, one in June, three in July, one in August and two in September.

The numbers in Yemen are: two in May, two in June, two in July, eight in August and zero in September.

Roggio points out the sharp increase in August was at about the same time a terror threat led to the temporary closure of 22 U.S. embassies and consulates across the Middle East and North Africa.

“But they were reactive strikes,” he said.

Roggio also says the US. launched 117 drone strikes in Pakistan in 2010, compared to 21 so far this year, which translates into one about every three of four days to about one every 15 days in 2013.

Obama repeated the U.S.’s position Tuesday at United Nations General Assembly speech, saying the county has shifted away from “a perpetual war-footing.”

“We have limited the use of drones so they target only those who pose a continuing, imminent threat to the United States where capture is not feasible, and there is a near certainty of no civilian casualties,” the president said.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.