3 Reasons U.S. Drone Policy is Really Freakin' Scary

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President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may not agree on much, but they're both totally into the use of unmanned aircraft known as drones to hunt down and kill real and imagined threats to the American way of life.

Whenever you've got top Democrats and top Republicans getting along, you know something has gone horribly wrong.

Here are three reasons why drone strikes are really freaking scary. 

1. They're not that accurate.

 One of the main selling points of drone strikes is their supposedly surgical precision. Rather than carpet-bombing entire city blocks to nail one or two bad guys, now we can just zap them without harming anyone else.

But a new study from researchers at NYU and Stanford concludes that as many 881 civilians - including 176 children - have been killed by US drone strikes in northern Pakistan since 2004. Worse still are reports that targets get blasted repeatedly, to ward off rescuers from helping the wounded.

2. There's no legal framework. 

Drone strikes have been carried out in countries with whom we're allies or against whom we've yet to declare war. They are the principal way in which President Obama's infamous "kill list"  is made operational and yet nobody knows how such decisions are being made. As The New York Times said earlier this year, "a unilateral campaign of death is untenable." 

Not only is such a campaign immoral on its face, it only damages America's standing in the world.

3. It's only going to get worse. 

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that in 20 years, as many as 30,000 drones could be filling the skies over America, doing everything from promoting local restaurants to executing warrantless snooping for local, state, and federal cops. That includes "nano drones," that will the size of a small flying insect. As it stands, the taxpaying public has basically zero information on how many drones are being used by which parts of government.

That's led the ACLU to file a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to find out more about the technical capabilities of drones and what parts of government are already up there in the wild blue yonder.

We need to force the government to be transparent on drones long before the machines start blotting out the sun.

About 2.30 minutes. Produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, who also narrates.

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  1. OK. But what, exactly, is your position on the use of drones?

    1. My position: arms around my head with my head between my knees.

      1. So, you're flexible on the issue?

        1. moldable even 🙂

  2. As is my solution to almost every libertarian question, I suggest we wait patiently for the warp drive and abandon this rock with the quickness 🙂

    Let's find a new spot and start over...

  3. We need to force the government to be transparent on drones long before the machines start blotting out the sun.

    It was us who scorched the sky.

    1. Watch what you say "copper top" they be listining everywhere...

  4. 1) Drones are not perfectly accurate. They are the most accurate air-based weapons system in existence. The study you cite lists 884 as the maximum number of civilian casualties, and 3325 as the maximum number of total dead. That's less than 30 percent civilian casualties.

    2) Conflating drones armed with hellfire missiles with drones advertising tires is moronic. It's akin to saying during World War 2, "Hey, all those AIRPLANES sure are killing a lot of civilians. What happens when AIRPLANES are flying over every american city?"

    3) You state that there is no way to know how Obama makes decisions about drone strikes, and then assert the campaign is "immoral on its face". How can you possibly know?

    1. You state that there is no way to know how Obama makes decisions about drone strikes, and then assert the campaign is "immoral on its face". How can you possibly know?

      Because there is no way to know how Obama makes decisions about drone strikes.

      1. So your lack of knowledge makes an action automatically immoral?

        1. The secrecy makes it immoral, you moron.

          1. So every secret military mission or campaign has been an immoral one?

            1. Withholding important information from the people from whom you allegedly derive the legitimacy of your authority when you are prosecuting a war ostensibly on their behalf is always immoral, yes.

              Keeping operational details from the public is obviously a necessity during wartime. Having a list of assassination targets, including American citizens, that is kept entirely from the public, the targets of which are killed in countries with whom we are not at war, is not an operational detail.

              1. Of course it's an operational detail. If you release this list of names, everybody on the list knows to go to ground.

        2. Yes.

          When the action results in the death of an American citizen without Constitutionally-mandated due process (which is specified in detail, and it ain't an executive panel of unknowns meeting in secret). Were the Obama Admin. to have tried Anwar al-Awlaki in absentia and gotten a death sentence this would be less an issue, but they didn't. That you aren't in any way bothered by the ramifications of the actions of the Obama Admin. and its use of drones speaks volumes about you.

          I suppose life is now one of those rights granted by the government and therefore can be denied by said government. Just so long as the government has "democratic legitimacy," right?

  5. "That's less than 30 percent civilian casualties."

    'Nuf said?

    CB

    1. When you're dealing with an enemy who purposefully shields themselves by hiding in the civilian population, that's an impressive number.

      1. "Impressed" and "grudgingly appreciative that things aren't worse"? Now who's conflating?

        1. Anti-Drone fearmongers are the new Luddites.

          The military has ROBOTS! ROBOTS in the SKY!

  6. Why do people keep harping on drones specifically as opposed to airstrikes in general? To my knowledge, a missile fired from a Predator isn't more likely to kill innocent civilians than one fired from an F-16. Unless you're making a silly "it's not chivalrous" objection, what difference does it make if the machine firing the missiles is being flown by someone inside it, or by someone in a trailer outside Las Vegas?

    1. Drones tend to be more accurate than fighter/bombers because they fly lower, and slower, because if they (rarely) get shot down, we don't lose a pilot and a 20 million dollar airframe.

      Fuck Obama!

      1. you are fine with this because you are an idiot who implicitly trusts obama above all. just wait til romney or jindal or whoever starts doing his own drone killing campaign.
        the scales will fall from your eyes. but of course you will have, by then, created some bs excuse for why the republican version is bad when obama's version was just fine.

        1. I'm not any more scared of drones than I am of F-15's.

          1. that's because cops don't fly, or will never fly F-15's over your head.

            Drones on the other hand...

            Just wait....

            ....almost there.....

            1. Cops fly helicopters all the time, but never helicopters armed with hellfire missiles.

              Why will drones be any different?

              1. A very good point. And the biggest reason armed drones are useful for the military is that they can strike targets without risking a pilot and a more-expensive aircraft over enemy territory. So, since your typical police beat is lacking in anti-aircraft weapons, why would they find missile-armed UAVs useful if they don't currently find missile-armed helicopters useful -- or for that matter, missile-armed squad cars, since nowhere in the US is sufficiently "enemy territory" that a couple squad cars couldn't go there?

  7. Liberalism at its best here...especially quoting a Stanford and NYU study. Give me a break. Two differences these guys failed to bring up. This cowardly enemy makes Nazi Germans look like saints...they hide in populated areas where innocent civilians reside. Unfortunately, this is war. Secondly, compare these civilian casualties to WWII when we would just carpet bomb cities. Given the fact that this enemy "lives" with civilians, these numbers are excellent.

    1. so, what you mean is,"this is war" means the procedures need no accountability.
      "this is war" means we can do things that are counterproductive to the war effort.

      as long as we are slightly less destructive to innocent civilians than carpet bombing was, you think it is all fine and dandy. makes sense.

      "this is war" is not an excuse to be a psyhcopathic retard.

      1. There's no proof that drone strikes are counterproductive to the war effort.

        I agree that civilian casualties make it easier for terrorist groups to recruit. However, now we know for every tragic story of an innocent civilian being killed by the US military, there are more than two stories of jihadist volunteers being blown to smithereens. If civilian casualties make recruitment easier, jihadists being exploded makes recruitment harder.

        1. "There's no proof that drone strikes are counterproductive to the war effort."

          Erm:

          "I agree that civilian casualties make it easier for terrorist groups to recruit."

          "If civilian casualties make recruitment easier, jihadists being exploded makes recruitment harder."

          I guess it shouldn't surprise me that you aren't a student of history.

          The massive bombing campaigns of WWII did nothing more than to inflame the resolve of the civilian populations under bombardment.

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  9. The same people who claimed the Iraq War killed millions. If you opposed to a policy be honest, don't lie about the consequences. There is no evidence that such large numbers of non-targets were killed. The fear in the Taliban and Al Queda and their propoganda war against it are evidence that they are sugically effective.

    What legal issue? We are killing our enemies in an act of war. You don't need a warrant or anything else to kill an enemy in war. This is not cops and robbers, it is war.

    We also have B-52s in the United States but we aren't yet carpet bombing gun owners or mary jane growers.

    Grow up. You got no arguement.

  10. The problem with the use of drones is the same with every other power that the government has. It's how it uses or abuses it.

    2001 - In Kyllo v. US the Supreme Court ruled that authorities scanning a home with an infrared camera without a warrant constituted an unreasonable search barred by the Fourth Amendment. It did so, the court said, because the device is "not in general use by the public", so Kyllo had an expectation of privacy, and because the imaging provided by the camera revealed details about Kyllo's home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion.
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story.....KFDqYe5MXA

    2012 - Infrared is commonly in use in the commercial sector and IR cameras are available to the public. As soon as it is in "general use by the public" IR will be fair game for law enforcement to use without a warrant.

    Now apply that to drones.

    2012 - The FAA Re-authorization Act, which President Obama is expected to sign, also orders the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....z2C2G3vx3m

    Once drones are in "general use by the public" will they also become fair game for law enforcement? That ability to easily invade the public's privacy is simply too much power to give to anyone with a badge.

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  21. You state that there is no way to know how Obama makes decisions about drone strikes, and then assert the campaign is "immoral on its face". How can you possibly know? R?ya Tabirleri Yemek Tarifleri

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