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Drones used only as a last resort, says US official

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Drones used only as a last resort, says US official
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Washington: Defending drone actions in the anti-terror operations, top White House official and CIA Director nominee John Brennan has said the unmanned combat vehicle is used by the US only as a "last resort".

"We only take such (drone) actions as a last resort to save lives when there's no other alternative to taking an action that's going to mitigate that threat," Brennan told the Senate Intelligence Committee during his confirmation hearing amid anti-drone protests inside the hearing hall.

As protests continued despite repeated efforts by Senators and the security police to normalise the situation, the audience were asked to leave by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Brennan said he has been a strong proponent of trying to be as open as possible with the drone programmes.

"What we need to do is optimise transparency on these issues, but at the same time, optimise secrecy and protection of our national security. I don't think that it's one or the other. It's trying to optimize both of them," he noted.

The official told lawmakers there is a mis-impression among some people that the US takes drone strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions.

Brennan said President Barack Obama has insisted that any US action will be legally grounded and thoroughly anchored in intelligence, and will have appropriate review and approval process before any action is contemplated, including those actions that might involve the use of lethal force.

He said his role as the President's counter-terrorism adviser was to help ensuring that the actions do not violate law and at the same time, meet the standards needed for country's security.

Brennan asserted it is tried to ensure that "everything possible" is done before turning to the use of "lethal" drone weapons, adding he never believed it was better to kill a terrorist than to detain him.

"We want to detain as many as possible, so we can elicit intelligence from them in the inappropriate manner so that we can disrupt follow-on terrorist attacks."

"So I'm a strong proponent of doing everything possible, short of killing terrorists, bringing them to justice, and getting intelligence from them," he said.

The official said US has been providing intelligence to its overseas partners which have been questioning a large number of suspects.

PTI

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