White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama takes his responsibility to protect U.S. citizens "enormously seriously and that is why he has pursued the fight against al Qaeda in the very direct way that he has."
"He also believes very strongly in the need to avoid civilian casualties in the pursuit of that objective, in the pursuit of al Qaeda," said Carney, "and goes to extraordinary measures in order to achieve that and, again, has at his disposal -- this administration does -- tools that allow for the kind of precision that in the past was not available," he said.
Americans have been largely supportive of the drone effort. In the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll on the subject, 83 percent of Americans approved of the use of unmanned drones against terrorist suspects. Sixty-five percent approved of their use against U.S. citizens suspected of terrorist activities.
The drone effort is also part of one of the most popular aspects of Obama's first-term record. "Handling the threat of terrorism" has been President Obama's strongest issue consistently for most of his presidency. Fifty-six percent approved when we last asked in January, the only one of seven items on which he had majority approval.
The president also holds an edge over GOP rival Mitt Romney in who is more trusted to handle terrorism, 47-40 percent in the April ABC News/Washington Post poll.