WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., cautioned against “self-imposed red tape” on U.S. drone strikes, saying that restrictions on the targeted strikes puts “Americans’ lives at risk.”
At a Tuesday hearing to discuss global threats to U.S. security, Rogers stated that, “The president’s May 2013 policy changes for U.S. targeted strikes are an utter and complete failure and they leave Americans’ lives at risk.”
Rogers suggested that “transparency” debates should be second to issues of national security.
“Individuals who would have previously been removed from the battlefield by U.S. counterterrorism operations for attacking or plotting against U.S. interests remain free because of self-imposed red tape,” said Rogers. “While we are busy pondering more ‘transparency,’ our intelligence professionals are left paralyzed because of totally incoherent policy guidance.”
The comments come amid claims from U.S. officials that the Obama administration has sharply curtailed drone strikes in Pakistan after the government asked for restraint during peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban. In November, Rogers defended a strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, labeling him a “bad guy” that put American troops in danger.
Rogers has been consistent in his opposition to limits held against U.S. national security agencies.
In January, the House Intelligence chair urged caution from President Barack Obama in making changes to controversial data collection used by the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Rogers has insisted that bulk phone record collection and storage by the NSA should continue, citing that is one of the intelligence “gaps” that overlooked prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Rogers has also expressed concern that private companies are not equipped to store electronic records from the NSA, arguing that such companies are unable to “safeguard it in the same way the government can safeguard it.”
On Tuesday, Rogers took shots at Obama, challenging his leadership on issues of national security. He suggested that the Obama’s public remarks on security challenges are “nice” and “good,” but accused the president of “assigning a task force to think about a problem.”
“That is not leadership,” Rogers said at the hearing. “We are in a fight, and our policy should be dictated by what best protects America, and not what is politically expedient.”