Drone Madness

Drone+Madness

Will Wraith, Writer

The United States government has gone under fire recently for keeping the CIA “drone” program out of the public eye. The U.S. targeted killing program utilizes auto-piloted planes or “drones” to assassinate specific terrorist targets. The CIA has claimed that the release of too much information on the program would be a breach of a national security. Major controversy surrounds drones and the amount of innocent civilians killed by strikes in the war on terror each year. Although there are no definite numbers that support this claim, it is clear that drone attacks and innocent civilian casualties have become an epidemic in Middle Eastern countries, specifically regions in Pakistan and Yemen that lack government jurisdiction. Other countries bombed by drones include Libya, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

CIA Director John Brennan was chosen by President Obama as the White House’s chief counterterrorism advisor. He has become the new face of the drone program and was dubbed with the nickname “the assassination czar.” He recently spoke about the computer-operated warplanes in the first public acknowledgement of drone warfare by the CIA in history. Brennan took heat from protesters and other media outlets for the controversial killing of innocent civilians. He spoke little on the subject but stated firmly that “in full accordance with the law — and in order to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States and to save American lives — the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones.”

My question for most anti-drone advocates is would it make a difference if we put a pilot in the cockpit? Drones are proven to be accurate and precise weapons. Though they have no doubt killed innocent civilians, drones aren’t the only weapons used in the war on terror. Ground operations in Pakistan have destroyed entire communities and forced nearly 4 million citizens to become refugees. Cluster bombs have a wide blast radius and have been used in public places. Innocent civilians get caught in the crossfire when combatants start firefights with U.S. soldiers. No one can definitively say that drones are the leading cause of civilian death in the war on terror. If anything, drones are morally preferable weapons in comparison to the blunt utilization of something like a Tomahawk cruise missle. From what I have gathered, drones keep our soldiers out of the line of fire and terminate targets accurately and precisely.