Rogers Defends Drone Strikes

'We will go after al Qaeda wherever they are before they can strike the United States'

February 6, 2013

Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) defended the use of drone attacks on Americans abroad associated with al Qaeda Wednesday, saying he "passionately disagreed" with those who opposed the air strikes and that the drones added "huge value in disrupting al Qaeda events."

Americans who join al Qaeda, a network at war with the U.S., essentially forfeit their citizenship, according to Rogers, who serves as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The interview came in the wake of the released 16-page Justice Department memo revealing the legal case to order drone strikes on Americans believed to be senior operational leaders of al Qaeda or "an associated force," whether or not intelligence reveals they are actively plotting against the U.S.

"When people say there's a list of Americans, not really," Rogers said. "This is a time-honored tradition. The legal basis of this goes back many years when U.S. citizens would go and fight for foreign nations that were engaging in combat with the United States. So what they were saying is once you've made that choice, you no longer get the protections that you would. If you join the enemy overseas, you join the enemies overseas. We do have oversight into it ... I review all of the air strikes that we use under this title of the law."

MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell brought up 16-year-old Abdulrahman Al-awlaki, the son of U.S. citizen and al Qaeda cleric Anwar Al-awlaki, who was killed by an air strike in Yemen in the fall of 2011, weeks after his father was killed by a drone.

"Any time that you have someone plotting attacks aggressively against the United States, they are a target," Rogers said. "This is a deadly organization, and it's deadly when you get people like this who are planning [these aggressive] events, and the goal here is to have zero civilian collateral damage or casualties. It's not perfect, but I will tell you, it's exceptionally good at making sure that doesn't happen ... Our policy is we will go after al-Qaeda wherever they are before they can strike the United States. I think this is part of that, and I think the legal basis conclusion that they came to is a solid one."