President Obama spoke today on an aspect of U.S. foreign policy that arose in the years after 9/11: the use of drones to attack suspected terrorists.

Choices has a Teaching with the News lesson that helps students analyze the issues and controversies surrounding the U.S. use of drones. The lesson draws on three videos of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Rohde explaining some of the issues.

Until now, the United States has not acknowledged that they conduct these drone attacks. But it has been an open secret that the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) runs the drone program, which officials claim is one of the most successful programs against al Qaeda. Supporters argue that the attacks have forced al Qaeda to operate more cautiously.

There were many areas where we once had freedom, but now they have been lost…. We are the ones that are losing people, we are the ones facing shortages of resources. Our land is shrinking and drones are flying in the sky.” 

—Ustadh Ahmad Farooq, al Qaeda’s media chief in Pakistan, January 23, 2011

Because the program is secret, the method for determining who or what is a legitimate target is unknown. Critics argue that any U.S. government program designed to kill people should receive more public scrutiny.