CBS News -- A day after his administration announced it had killed four American citizens with missiles fired from unmanned aircraft, President Barack Obama said "The decisions that we are making now will define the type of nation - and world - that we leave to our children. So America is at a crossroads."
In a rare and wide-ranging speech on his national security policy, he outlined a new policy for the use of unmanned aircraft, drones, that includes more transparency and an open rulebook of sorts, as well as plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Amnesty International's Michelle Ringuette thinks America might have already chosen its turn at that crossroads. She told CBS News' Bob Orr the U.S. Drone Program "has really not made us any safer and has instead really transformed what we can really say about ourselves as a nation," in an interview for Face to Face.
She explained that the drone program, "shrouded in secrecy," is the kind of program that we, as Americans "wouldn't want other countries" to have or to have the authority to use. Yet, she said, "we seem to be reserving this option for ourselves."
But what about the president's new guidelines, which include restraining the use of lethal drone strikes to inside war zones unless they're targeting a senior al Qaeda official or known terrorist who can't otherwise be captured? Ringuette insists, "We don't need to make a new rulebook on this. There are already laws that govern how we should conduct our engagement in warlike activities." Ringuette points to international human rights law and international humanitarian law for that rulebook, which, she points out, "We want everybody else to live under."
The president also reiterated his desire to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, something he has said he would do since his very first day in office. Ringuette said she wants to believe the president, but noted the president said the same thing in 2008. When he said it then it gave the detainees there "enormous hope," but the fact that there's no been no movement toward making that a reality has been "devastating" to detainees and their families.
The president's words and ending the moratorium on the transfer of Yemeni prisoners was "heartening," but "we are so beyond the point where rhetoric is adequate." Ringuette will be watching to see "real steps taking place" to close Gitmo.