President Barack Obama last week delivered a muscular defense of his use of armed drone aircraft to eliminate al-Qaida leaders, and moved to ensure his controversial targeted-killing program is here to stay.

While Obama indicated he would order future strikes only when other options are unavailable, he also codified the drone program, which his administration once refused to acknowledge, into America’s counterterrorism canon.

“We act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people, and when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat,” Obama said at Washington’s National Defense University. “And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured, the highest standard we can set.”

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