WATCH: Joe Scarborough, Rick Santorum spar over terror policy

Updated
Former US Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on...
Former US Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on...
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

msnbc’s Joe Scarborough chided Rick Santorum on Sunday’s Meet the Press for alleging that the Obama administration has been “timid” and “pulling back” in the war on terror and reminded the former presidential candidate of the president’s drone policy.
“Even the president’s critics inside the CIA have been surprised at his drone policy, surprised that he’s adopted a lot of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush’s approach in the war on terror,” said Scarborough, who has long criticized the president’s drone program for being too harsh.
Indeed, President Obama adopted, expanded, and enhanced a drone program in both the military, which authorizes 33 drone strikes a month in Afghanistan, and the C.I.A., which uses covert drones to enter countries such as Pakistan and Yemen.
But Santorum said the drone program is just that, a program, and not an offensive policy.

“The drone policy is one policy. What we’ve seen is an administration that has refused to confront radical Islam, that embraced the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and now you see the consequences of that,” the former presidential candidate said on CNN. “They have withdrawn politically from the engagement and fight. Yeah, sure, they’re going after bad guys with drone programs, but that is not a comprehensive policy.”

Scarborough fired back that even Conservatives can’t deny the president the successes of the drone program in dismantling al Qaeda.

“I am not in the business of defending Barack Obama but if you talk to people in the intelligence community, they will tell you that al Qaeda is busted, it’s broken, it’s splintered,” Scarborough said. “al Qaeda is not any stronger today than it was when Barack Obama came into office and most people, conservatives in the intelligence community, will tell you that in fact, it’s weaker today than it was because the president surprised a lot of people…he’s adopted the policies of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush in many, many instances.”

But as Scarborough and others have said: the drone program may be doing more damage than good by cultivating anti-American sentiment.
“The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes…is much greater than the average American appreciates,” Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal told Reuters. “They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”

Drones exacerbate a “perception of American arrogance that says, ‘Well we can fly where we want, we can shoot where we want, because we can,” he said.

Related: Drones: Explained

WATCH: Joe Scarborough, Rick Santorum spar over terror policy

Updated