NEW YORK A senior Obama administration counterterrorism official has defended the US campaign of target killings abroad, especially the drone attacks in Pakistan, arguing that it would be wholly irresponsible not to stop those plotting to harm Americans. A police officer doesnt need a court order to defend himself if someone pulls out a gun, Michael Leiter, who heads the National Counterterrorism Centre, said during a national security conference session in Aspen, Colorado, according to The Los Angeles Times. The US government has that same right of self-defence internationally. The US has carried out at least 144 airstrikes in Pakistan under a covert CIA programme using aerial drones, according to Long War Journal, a blog that counts the strikes using news media reports. Leiter referred to the drone programme when he was questioned by Michael Isikoff, a writer for Newsweek who moderated the discussion. Isikoff asked what would be different about China launching a drone strike against Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur political activist living in Virginia who is accused by China of inciting violence in that country. Leiter replied that there are many differences, including the relations that we have with the host government, meaning Pakistan. Pakistan has never said that we do not like the elimination of terrorists through Predator drones, he was quoted as saying, calling the technology very, very useful. The US is doing a better job consulting the Pakistani government, he said.