WASHINGTON -- Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday the accidental deaths of two innocent hostages killed during a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan were “obviously preventable.”
Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, McCain said “there was an obvious breakdown in intelligence.”
“It was obviously preventable, but the question then is do we continue these drone strikes and how important are they? It is clearly a subject for review by both Intelligence and Armed Services Committees and the entire Congress,” McCain said.
On Thursday, President Barack Obama addressed the public from the White House, apologizing for the deaths of an American hostage, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian national hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto, who were killed during a strike targeting an al Qaeda-associated compound.
Obama took full responsibility for the deaths, but the incident, which occurred in January, has raised questions on Capitol Hill about who should oversee such operations.
McCain argued the CIA might not be the right agency to handle the drone program. However, the White House on Friday wouldn’t go so far as to even confirm that the CIA has a drone program.
“There is kind of an internal struggle going on within the administration and within Congress on whether it should be an armed services operation or should it be done by the CIA,” McCain said, adding that the program does exist.
McCain noted it would be better to give more “responsibility and authority” to the Department of Defense over the program.
“It’s really not the job of an intelligence agency,” he said.
“We are now facing a new form of warfare … and really the only way you can get at them, that we know of now, that is viable, is through the drone operations -- they have taken out leadership. This is sort of the aspect of the frozen conflict,” McCain said.
He added that it is “understandable” the administration would not be sending in soldiers on the ground for raids every single time.
“We are not going to set boots on the ground to get these people and that’s certainly understandable,” McCain said.