'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

RADDATZ: Well, that's certainly because of the testimony of John Brennan and what he brought to the Hill, what he talked about, which, frankly, wasn't very much. The drone wars have not been discussed for four or five years. No one talks about them. It's a brilliant strategy. If you don't talk about it, no one else will talk about them, either.

I just returned from the Mideast. I was in Israel; I was in northern Israel. A lot of people are talking about drones. A lot of people are talking about the effects of drones, George. As you know, I've been in all the places they're used, in Yemen, in Pakistan...


RADDATZ: ... and people there do not like them. John Brennan is able to say, look, it's very effective, and it's certainly been effective taking out core leadership, but when you talk to people on the street, you wonder what the long-term strategy is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, but let me press you on that, though, because you're right, there has been a lot of discomfort on the ground with these drone strikes. On the other hand, it does appear that the number of civilian casualties has been going down since 2008, and certainly there are less casualties than would be caused by massive bombing.

RADDATZ: Well, I think one of the things is that, yes, I think they've become much more careful. I think John Brennan is probably very careful. No one wants to kill civilians. And yet the American public doesn't really know much about this.

I interviewed Stan McChrystal a few weeks ago, the former head of the Joint Special Operations Command, who ran a drone strike program. What General McChrystal said is, look, what concerns him is that they're now going after midlevel Al Qaida, they're now going after midlevel Taliban. So where does that stop? And who makes those decisions? And who makes the decisions that -- that something is imminent?

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Congressman Ellison, you've been on this for some time. You want much more oversight from the Congress.

ELLISON: That's right. You know, I've looked into this, I haven't found one public hearing on drones. Now, we had the Brennan hearings, but, you know, Congress has an oversight responsibility here. And, by the way, the president has invited the conversation. He said we need a legal architecture around this thing, so why don't we go do it?

I, by the way, don't think this is a partisan issue at all. I think that we need to get a hold of this technology, because certainly other countries will be weaponizing drones. Certainly we will probably have objections to how they use them, if they don't use them in accordance to due process and international standards. And, by the way, the paper that the president -- well, the administration released, you know, uses the term "imminent threat." But this...

RADDATZ: And who decides that, right?

ELLISON: Well, this is the broadest use of the term "imminent" I've ever heard.

COLE: A member of Al Qaida...


ELLISON: You know, yeah, if you're a member of Al Qaida -- not even that, if you're in affiliated groups. So it could be pretty attenuated. I'm glad the president invited the conversation. I think we ought to take him up on it and have -- put some real structure around this thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And, Congressman, as he said, this has been somewhat bipartisan. A lot of Republicans also...


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