WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday that the country will have to keep up an open-ended drone war against Al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan and elsewhere to prevent another terror attack on America.
In an interview, Panetta, who is days away from retiring as Pentagon chief, said there was still a need to continue the drone strikes more than a decade since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
“I think it depends on the nature of the threat that we’re confronting. We are in a war. We’re in a war on terrorism and we’ve been in that war since 9/11.
“The whole purpose of our operations were aimed at those who attacked this country and killed 3,000 innocent people in New York as well as 200 people here at the Pentagon,” he said.
The assassination of Al-Qaeda figures in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia with unmanned, robotic aircraft has provoked widespread criticism from human rights groups and some US allies, but Panetta said the US campaign has been effective.