What to Say to People Who Drone on About How Good Drones Are

Debra Sweet | April 29, 2015

Children killed by drones in Yemen
A few points on the U.S. drone war which will not surprise you, but should be in your arsenal of arguments for people who think drones are an acceptable form of mass murder:

The damage that thousands of US missile strikes shot from drones have done to the perceived legitimacy of US war-fighting is similar to the damage that has been done to belief in the rule of law by this government's program of “enhanced interrogation” and indefinite detention. And it is the very same people and structures, not surprisingly, which have orchestrated, planned, and executed both the illegal, illegitimate drone war as well as the illegal, illegitimate torture program.

The New York Times revealed some of the contradictions the Democrats — who deeply support drone warfare, and are somewhat divided over Guantanamo — are resolving in an article after Obama's announcement that US drone strikes had killed two hostages in Pakistan, including a US citizen:

The confidence Ms. Feinstein and other Democrats express about the drone program, which by most accounts has been effective in killing hundreds of Qaeda operatives and members of other militant groups over the years, stands in sharp contrast to the criticism among lawmakers of the now defunct C.I.A. program to capture and interrogate Qaeda suspects in secret prisons.

But both programs were led by some of the same people... When Ms. Feinstein was asked in a meeting with reporters in 2013 why she was so sure she was getting the truth about the drone program while she accused the C.I.A. of lying to her about torture, she seemed surprised. “That’s a good question, actually,” she said.

Right, and it's a question for which she and they have no answers.

The drone program is vastly increasing anger at the US across the region. Glenn Greenwald, in writing about a Yemeni 13 year old killed by a US drone, wrote earlier this year:

"If it were American teenagers rather than Yemeni ones regularly being burned to death — on American soil rather than Yemeni soil — does it take any effort to understand why there’d be widespread calls for violence against the perpetrators in response? Consider how much American rage and violence was unleashed by a single-day attack on American soil 13 years ago. 

  Read The U.S. Media and the 13-Year-Old Yemeni Boy Burned to Death Last Month by a U.S. Drone by Glenn Greenwald.

There is no international standard which allows for the US to make war beyond any and all national boundaries with no end in sight. Lawyer Marjorie Cohn writes,

“Drone strikes are illegal when conducted off the battlefield. They should be outlawed. Obama, like Bush before him, opportunistically defines the whole world as a battlefield.”

Marjorie will be speaking in World Can't Wait's panel at The Left Forum on May 30 on this topic (details).

  Read Challenging American Exceptionalism by Marjorie Cohn.

There is no distance from war for the drone operators. Nick Mottern, the director of kNOwDrones.com, writes:

As the Obama government attempts to justify its drone program, Staff Sergeant Shane R. Owens, a drone sensor operator suffering from PTSD from having been involved with drone killing, assigned to the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech AFB, has been confined by the Air Force without charges since March 5 at nearby Nellis AFB in Nevada.

As late as yesterday afternoon, Monday, April 27, the Nellis Public Affairs Office would provide no information on when Owens would be released or anything about what is happening with his case. His lawyer, Craig Drummond said Monday evening that Owens has yet to appear before a military law judge.

  Read Drone Pilot With PTSD Confined Without Charges by the Air Force by Nick Mottern.

Debra Sweet is the Director of World Can't Wait and can be reached at debrasweet (at) worldcantwait.net.

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.