Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday he expects that the use of drone planes will continue to play a significant role in the global "War on Terror," and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should remain open.
"I think we have to begin with the fact that a drone is nothing more than an airplane," he said Thursday on Fox News. "It just doesn't happen to have a human being flying it. So you ought to be able to do with a drone what you do with a manned aircraft. The difference is simply that one thing — there isn't a person in it."
"I think there is clearly going to be a use for drones; there has been in the past, there will be in the future, both armed and unarmed drones," he continued. "I'll be interested to see what the president has to say."
U.S. drone strikes have killed four Americans, including one who was "specifically targeted" and three others who were not targets, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a letter to Congress on Wednesday, publicly confirming the strikes for the first time.
The revelation was made before President Obama lays out a drone policy in a major speech at the National Defense University Thursday, where he also is expected to reignite his push to transfer detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which houses suspected terrorists.
Mr. Rumsfeld said one of the big disadvantages with drones, however, is that they can kill people who might have otherwise been able to provide valuable information if captured alive. He said the place to gather that information should be Guantanamo Bay.
"It's probably as well-run a prison as you'll find," he said. "Now, prisons are not nice places, but these people were picked up on the battlefield, they're down in Guantanamo because of the danger they pose to the United States, there's a process that handles them in a humane way, and closing it — I would really want to see with [the president] says and what he plans to do."
Mr. Rumsfeld also said that the United States, since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, has still not engaged in an ideological battle against terrorists throughout the world.
"This is much more like the Cold War than it is like World War I or Korea — it's going to take time, and we have to be willing to engage against the people that are training young people to go out and kill innocent men, women and children," he said.
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