House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-NY) on Sunday refused to confirm the existence of U.S. drone strikes in other countries, but later insisted that the unmanned flying machines were being used to “carry out the policies of righteousness and goodness.”
During an interview on CNN, host Candy noted that an analysis by the New America Foundation estimated that drone strikes have had an 17 percent civilian casualty rate since 2004.
“Because I’m on the Intelligence Committee, I can’t officially acknowledge that we have a drone program,” King told Crowley. “I’m not concerned [with the casualty rate]. My belief is that when you’re in war — and we are in war — the idea is to kill as many of the enemy as you can with minimal risk of life to your own people. As far as the civilian casualties, every one of those is tragic. But the fact is in every war, there’s a large amount of collateral damage, of civilian casualties — whether it’s World War II, whether it’s the Korean War — and if we were using ordinary explosives, we would also have those type of civilian deaths.”
Crowley pressed King on whether the U.S. would criticize other countries — like Russia — if they began using drones to strike outside their airspace.
“I think we have to assume that the Russians would use drones if they could,” King explained. “Just as we had to assume during the Cold War that they would use nuclear weapons. … I wish we could all live in a world where we could hold hands and love each other. The fact is, that’s not reality. We have an enemy that wants to kill us. I live in New York. I lost over 150 constituents on 9/11, and if we can save the next 150 by killing al Qaeda terrorists with drones then kill them.”
He continued: “We have to assume that there’s always going to be an increase in weapons. This has been the history of mankind. That’s why we have to make sure our defense budget is not weakened and that we stay ahead of the enemy.”
“There’s evil people in the world. Drones aren’t evil, people are evil. We are a force of good and we are using those drones to carry out the policy of righteousness and goodness.”
Watch this video from CNN’s State of the Union, broadcast June 10, 2012.