National Security Brief: Former Top Obama Military Aide Questions Benefits Of Drone Program

The former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Thursday that the costs of the Obama administration’s counter-terror drone program may be outweighing its benefits.

“We’re seeing that blowback,” said retired General James Cartwright at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “If you’re trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you’re going to upset people even if they’re not targeted.”

The CIA will reportedly be moving its armed drone program under the auspices of the Defense Department and because of that, according to the New York Times, Cartwright is also worried about “blurring the line” between soldiers and spies if DOD is running armed drones “outside a declared area of hostility.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the new U.S. drone base in Niger is starting to take shape. “We welcome the drones,” Niger’s President Issoufou Mahamadou said. “Our countries are like the blind leading the blind,” he said. “We rely on countries like France and the United States. We need cooperation to ensure our security.”

In other news:

  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggested in a lengthy speech on Thursday that he is open to nuclear talks with the United States, if not optimistic about their outcome.
  • The Washington Post reports: The U.N. secretary general said Thursday that he will launch an investigation into whether chemical weapons were used in Syria, seeking to address accusations that, if proven, could alter the trajectory of the two-year-old civil war in the country.