Obama Grilled On Drones In Google Hangout: "There Have To Be Legal Checks And Balances"
LEE DOREN, QUESTION: A lot of people are very concerned that your administration now believes it's legal to have drone strikes on American citizens, and whether or not that's specifically allowed with citizens within the United States. And if that's not true, what will you do to create a legal framework to make American citizens within the United States know that drone strikes cannot be used against American citizens?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well first of all -- I think, there has never been a drone used on an American citizen on American soil. And, you know, we respect and have a whole bunch of safeguards in terms of how we conduct counterterrorism operations outside of the United States.
The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside the United States, in part because our capacity, for example, to capture a terrorist in the United States are very different than in the foothills or mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan.
But, what I think is absolutely true is that it is not sufficient for citizens to just take my word for it that we're doing the right thing. I am the head of the executive branch. And what we've done so far is to try to work with Congress on oversight issues. But part of what I'm going to have to work with Congress on is to make sure that whatever it is that we're providing Congress, that we have mechanisms to also make sure that the public understands what's going on, what the constraints are, what the legal parameters are, and that's something that I take very seriously.
I am not somebody who believes that the President has the authority to do whatever he wants, or whatever she wants, whenever they want just under the guise of counterterrorism. There have to be legal checks and balances on it.