President Barack Obama set out Thursday to limit the controversial use of drones for the crackdown on terrorism and also renewed his call on Congress to cooperate to close a detention facility for terrorism suspects in Guantanamo.
"Our nation is still threatened by terrorists," Obama said in a speech on counterterrorism measures he delivered at the National Defense University.
Admitting the use of drones has resulted in the deaths of civilians and has drawn criticism at home and abroad, Obama pledged "the highest standard we can set" on the use of remotely controlled aircraft.
The move came a day after the U.S. government admitted to having killed four Americans in antiterrorism operations using drone for the first time in a report to Congress.
Obama said the United States only use a drone when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing terrorists who pose a continuing and eminent threat to the American people.
Before any strike is taken, there must be "near-certainty" that no civilians will be killed or injured, he said.
Obama said the nature of terrorism threat has shifted from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and mentioned the need for making strategies "based not on fear but hard-earned wisdom."
"Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers" from the facility in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Obama said.
He also said his government has been lifting a moratorium on transfer of Yemeni detainees to the home country from Guantanamo.
Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo facility at the beginning of his first term in 2009 but the plan hit a snag due to opposition by Congress over moving of detainees to the United States among other issues.