U.S. debates drone strike on American terror suspect in Pakistan


In the last five years, four American terror suspects in other countries have been killed in drone strikes by the United States. The Obama administration is now considering attacking another alleged American terrorist in Pakistan, but the rules are changing and the debate is fierce.


 CBS News senior security contributor and former CIA deputy director Mike Morell joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss the possibility of the Obama administration using a drone strike to go after another alleged American terrorist.

Morell told the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts that it’s a “very big deal” to use a drone strike to kill an American terrorist.

“The process is rigorous. It includes having an intelligent assessment that the individual is a lawful combatant, which means he’s a member of a terrorist group at war with the United States,” he said. “It requires an intelligence assessment that the individual poses an imminent threat to U.S. persons. And it requires an intelligence assessment that there is no other way to get this individual, that capture is not feasible.”

Morell also discussed what is behind the decision to use a drone strike.

“The intelligence agencies bring all the information,” he said. “Then the lawyers review it, including the Department of Justice and then the deputies and principles of the National Security Council and ultimately the president of the United States makes the decision,” he said.

Morell said the “bad thing” about the drone policy debate going public is that “if you’re that American, you know you’re being targeted now, so you have the advantage.”

He told the co-hosts that President Obama has to weigh a couple of things and especially make sure there is “due process for killing an American.”  

“He (Obama) has to take that process against the risk of this individual doing something before that process is done,” said Morell. “He also has to weigh - what he wants is transparency, being able to stand up and tell the American people why he’s killed an American-  against the risk of foreign policy damage, given the country we’re talking about.”

 To watch the full interview with Mike Morell, watch the video in the player above