Obama de­fends in­tel­li­gence af­ter hostage deaths


A day af­ter re­veal­ing an in­tel­li­gence fail­ure that cost the lives of two al- Qaida hostages, U. S Pres­i­dent Barack Obama on Fri­day praised his spy­ing op­er­a­tions as the most ca­pa­ble in the world while promis­ing a re­view aimed at pre­vent­ing fu­ture mis­takes.

“We all bleed when we lose an Amer­i­can life,” Obama said in a speech at the Of­fice of the Direc­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence to mark its 10th an­niver­sary. “We all grieve when any in­no­cent life is taken. We don’t take this work lightly. And I know that each and ev­ery one of you un­der­stand the magni- tude of what we do and the stakes in­volved. And th­ese aren’t ab­strac­tions and we’re not cav­a­lier about what we do.”

Obama said he knows that the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity has faced crit­i­cism but ar­gued that the world doesn’t al­ways see their suc­cesses that have pre­vented at­tacks and saved lives. He said he could not do his job with­out their in­sights and anal­y­sis and they can take great pride in their work.

“We’re more se­cure be­cause of your ser­vice,” Obama said. “It’s been 10 long and chal­leng­ing years, but when we look back on those 10 years the Amer­i­can peo­ple have been a whole lot safer.”

Obama was speak­ing one day af­ter mak­ing the sur­prise an­nounce­ment that a coun­tert­er­ror­ism op­er­a­tion in Jan­uary against an al-Qaida com­pound accidentally killed two aid work­ers be­ing held hostage — Amer­i­can War­ren We­in­stein and Ital­ian Gio­vanni Lo Porto. Obama said that de­spite hun­dreds of hours of sur­veil­lance of the com­pound, the U.S. was un­aware the hostages were in the tar­geted po­si­tion.

The White House said the attack also killed two Amer­i­can al-Qaida lead­ers, Ahmed Farouq and Adam Gadahn, with­out the U.S. know­ing in ad­vance they were there. Tar­get­ing an Amer­i­can with a drone strike would have trig­gered a more in­tense re­view in con­sid­er­a­tion of con­sti­tu­tional due process pro­tec­tions.

“We’re go­ing to re­view what hap­pened,” Obama said Fri­day. “We’re go­ing to iden­tify the lessons that can be learned and any im­prove­ments and changes that can be made. And I know those of you who are here share our de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­tinue do­ing ev­ery­thing we can to pre­vent the loss of in­no­cent lives.”

The Amer­i­can pres­i­dent said the will­ing­ness of his ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­view the cir­cum­stances be­hind the deaths and make cor­rec­tions sets the U.S. apart from other na­tions.

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