- The Washington Times - Friday, April 24, 2015

A day after revealing an innocent American hostage was killed in a January drone strike on an al Qaeda compound, President Obama said Friday that he welcomes a debate over U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism practices.

Speaking at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the president said very few people truly know the lives that are saved because of American intelligence officers.

“Part of what makes our job even more challenging is that despite the extraordinary work that’s done here and the lives that are saved on an ongoing basis, a lot of work still requires that we maintain some things are classified,” he said. “The American people and people around the world may never know the full extent of your service. There may be those who question or challenge what we do, and we welcome those questions and those challenges because that makes us better. But I know what you do. We’re more secure because of your service.”

Mr. Obama’s remarks to the intelligence community — which coincide with the 10th anniversary of the ODNI — come just 24 hours after he took the unusual step of speaking publicly about an American drone strike.

The attack mistakenly killed American Warren Weinstein, an aid worker from Rockville, Maryland, and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto. The U.S. was unaware the two hostages were inside the al Qaeda compound targeted in the strike.

The president said an openness to examine past mistakes and failures and learn from them is a uniquely American trait.

“This willingness to examine ourselves, to make corrections, to do better, that’s part of what makes us Americans. It’s part of what sets us apart from other nations,” he said.

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