CONAN: We're talking with Daniel Klaidman, author of "Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency."
KLAIDMAN: Yeah, that's exactly right. This was three days after Barack Obama took office, only hours before he had signed these executive orders that rolled back some of the - what he viewed as the excesses of the previous administration's counterterrorism policies, Guantanamo, torture, shutting down the CIA detention facilities. And then, on January 23, John Brennan, his chief counterterrorism advisor, came to him and had to give him the news that the very first drone strike of his presidency had gone very badly wrong and a Pakistani tribal elder and much of his family, a pro-peace person, had been wiped out in this drone strike.
And the president was quite troubled by it. He called in the holdover CIA chief, Michael Hayden and his deputy, and he asked him what had happened here. And this was a kind of an important moment for him. Ironically, he ended up embracing the program, and it's also kind of an inflection point in his presidency.