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Beltway Buzz

Obama's Drone Policy

President Obama has relied heavily on the use of unmanned spy drones in places like Pakistan and Yemen. Many have questioned the legality under U.S. and international law as well as the morality of such technology. But the commander-in-chief says lethal drone strikes against terrorists abroad are perfectly just.

In his most in-depth public remarks on drones ever, the president said his preference is always to detain and interrogate and prosecute, but argued that's not always possible. Sometimes sending American special forces to some of the remote locations terrorists hide out could spark an international crisis.

Drone strikes let the U.S. target a threat with minimal disruption and loss of life. Ahead of his address, Obama signed new "presidential policy guidelines" aimed at explaining more clearly the standards the U.S. applies before carrying out drone attacks.

Officials said the guidelines include not using strikes when the targeted people can be captured, either by the U.S. or a foreign government, relying on drones only when the target poses an "imminent" threat, and establishing a preference for giving the military control of the drone program.

As for the legality of drone strikes, the president reminds us that Congress overwhelmingly approved the use of force against America's enemies after 9/11. And since America is still at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associates, lethal force by an unmanned drone, is legal, he says, under both American and international law.

Here's a look at the general use of drones in U.S. airspace.