Basic Truths About the U.S. Drones

by Revolution Newspaper  |  March 11, 2013

Last week drones—pilotless, remote controlled aircraft which have been used by the U.S. military and spy agencies to kill thousands of people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries—were suddenly in the news in a big way.

Eric Holder, Attorney General in the Obama administration, wrote a letter in which he refused to rule out the use of drone strikes within the U.S. in "extraordinary circumstances." Rand Paul, a right-wing senator from Kentucky, objected to the letter, and then spoke for 13 hours in a Senate "filibuster" (a maneuver to stall a vote) against Obama's nomination of John Brennan for CIA director.

Brennan is a leading architect of the Obama policy of murder-by-drone. Paul said he intended to speak "until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court."

Paul's focus was on the possible use of drone strikes within the U.S., not the ongoing use of drones to kill people outside the U.S. But Paul's marathon filibuster attracted a lot of attention, including sharp criticism from other leading Republicans like John McCain. Paul's filibuster also received support from some anti-war groups like Code Pink.

Some basic truth about drones and their use by the U.S. government needs to be injected into this debate.

This article originally appeared in Revolution Newspaper in the March 17, 2013 issue.