January 31st, 2012
12:26 PM ET
A senior administration official is denying to CNN that President Obama made a mistake in publicly revealing what had been classified information about U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
Asked whether it was a mistake or part of some larger strategy, the official said the president’s on the record admission on drones during a Google + video chat Monday, was “neither a slip up or a secret message to the Pakistanis”
The president on Monday said that "a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA, and going after al Qaeda suspects who are up in very tough terrain on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. For us to be able to get them in another way would involve probably a lot more intrusive military actions than the one we're already engaging in." (FATA being the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan where Al Qaeda and many Taliban are ensconced).
The official downplayed the significance of what happened, pointing out that what the president said was widely known. The president, the official said was making the point that the drone missions are “precise” and “targeted to avoid casualties.”
On continued tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the same senior administration official said “we want this to end diplomatically.” “Iran just needs to seize this opportunity” and agree to compromises as part of the international talks to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.