CIA Has 'Acquired A Taste' For Killing People With Drones; Won't Give It Up

from the that-seems-problematic dept

The US's use of drones is nothing if not controversial, and the overall secrecy around the program -- including the belief that it can be used against Americans as well -- has worried an awful lot of people. Even those in the administration who support the program apparently are uncomfortable with it implicitly, as the Obama administration had drawn up a whole bunch of rules that would limit drone killing... which they wanted to put in place in case Romeny won the election. But, when Obama won, they abandoned the idea. In other words, the position of the administration is basically, "trust us with these drone killing programs... but no one else." Under significant pressure about all of this, the President finally announced in May that the drone killing program would be moved from the CIA to the Defense Department, where it would have more oversight (slightly) and limits.

Except, as Foreign Policy is now reporting, that isn't actually happening and may never happen. The main reason appears to be fairly simple: the CIA loves killing people with these drones, and people in the Defense Department are kind of uncomfortable with doing so. So, the CIA wants to keep control, and the Defense Department doesn't want it.
The U.S. official said that while the platforms and the capabilities are common to either the Agency or the Pentagon, there remain distinctly different approaches to "finding, fixing and finishing" terrorist targets. The two organizations also use different approaches to producing the "intelligence feeds" upon which drone operations rely. Perhaps more importantly, after years of conducting drone strikes, the CIA has developed an expertise and a taste for them. The DOD's appetite to take over that mission may not run very deep.
Yes, the CIA has developed a taste for killing people from the skies with drones controlled from far away. It's like a sport.

Remember when the US banned assassinations by the CIA? Yeah. Weren't those the days?


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 7:41am

    now twist things round and see what the response would be if it were drones from another country killing USA citizens in any country. there would be all hell let loose, the same as there always is when anyone else does to the USA exactly what the it does to others! the double standard is never more appropriate than with our govt!

     

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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re:

    TEHRORISM!

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 7:48am

    Not coincidentally, was before capital gains cuts, de-regulation,

    and dropping of anti-trust enforcement.

    "Remember when the US banned assassinations by the CIA? Yeah. Weren't those the days?"

    I'm pretty sure those are all related by the general breakdown of morality, even if a tough sell here.

    But I don't agree that the military is very reluctant to take this up. Not the military that murdered a million or more innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sure, may be some regrets over that -- just as over the 3 or 4 million murdered in Vietnam -- but obviously, militaries don't learn, and it's definitely not safe to rely on them to act morally. -- SO that aspect of this is just propaganda by the military. And of course, actually, the military is soon to get all sorts of new killer robots, SO if reluctant at all, it's only because have other programs...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 7:50am

    CIA has become an evil version of Judge Dredd? Judge, jury and executioner all in one?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re:

    I can see someone behing a screen flying a drone saying: "Double Whammy"...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Would that REALLY be better?

    Isn't the CIA SUPPOSED to be under Congressional oversight(I know. Stop laughing.) while the DOD is under the Executive branch of government? At least with a mandate for Congressional oversight there are SOME (like Wyden and Udall) that can try to sound the alarm when abuses occur.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Why different views from the DoD and CIA?

    Q. Why do the DoD and CIA have differing views on this?

    A. Because one is subject to more scrutiny and oversight, and the other does much of its work in secret, in the dark, without effective oversight. As to which one is which, I will leave to the opinion of the reader.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:06am

    Good to hear that the Department of Defense is uncomfortable with routinely assassinating people from the skies. That's the sort of thing you want your army to be uncomfortable with doing. It also makes it slightly easier to deal with the problem as you mainly have to worry about the CIA, rather than having to worry about both the CIA and the DoD.

     

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    Pixelation, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Obummer

    It bears repeating..."Absolute power corrupts absolutely".

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    What do you do with a dog that has acquired a taste for killing?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    The problem was being ok with this stuff on foreigners

    "including the belief that it can be used against Americans as well-- has worried an awful lot of people"

    That's what allowed this blatantly illegal program to get off the ground. Law breaking by the government should NOT be ok simply because the victim is a terrorist, or a foreigner. That makes it much easier for the government to start doing the EXACT same thing to US citizens.

    It also makes us look really bad in the eyes of the rest of the world when we go "illegal drone strikes on foreigners in foreign nations? Sure perfectly fine, sorry foreigners but you have no rights to our judicial system".

    How would you like it if China or Russia started to kill US citizens with drones simply because they thought they were a possible threat to them? Or worse yet, they kill or injure plenty of innocent Americans who just happened to be around a bad guy who was out in public when they got blown up with a missile from the drone?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Unlawful combatants

    The CIA are non-military personnel engaged in military operations. We would understand if any of them traveling overseas should get thrown in a location that is non-compliant with the Geneva Convention. Isn't that what we would do?

     

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    Alt0, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:49am

    Re: Not coincidentally, was before capital gains cuts, de-regulation,

    ...Oh and GOOGLE! because...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    How about you DON'T let anyone do it then - ASSHOLES!

    Signature killing and double-tapping should be declared WAR CRIMES immediately by the UN. I mean ffs, they're killing people based on algorithms and then others in the area, without ever knowing who they even were.

    How is wrong is that?!

     

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    Deranged Poster (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:04am

    Re:

    New Drone target Acquired.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:06am

    Oh yay! Flying death robots!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    Judge, jury, and executioner.

     

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    Simon, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:14am

    The trouble with war is that one becomes what one was fighting against.
    I fail to see how the US can condemn any action taken by the other side whe in light of its assassinations.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:39am

    Re: The problem was being ok with this stuff on foreigners

    Your logic is absolutely sound. Unfortunately, the US government is composed entirely of sociopaths incapable of empathy. Concepts like, "To people in other countries, I'm the one who's a foreigner," are beyond them.

    They are incapable of recognizing their own hypocrisy, as anyone who reads their press releases can tell you. Pleas for them to respect other human beings as equals will fall on deaf ears. They aren't mentally capable of recognizing that what they're doing is wrong.

     

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    Anonymouse, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    You know what they say... Once you pop, you just can't stop!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 10:25am

    A drone is not a weapon. A drone can not kill a person, well, unless it falls on him or something. It is merely a platform for a weapon.
    Why does it matter of the weapon is being held by an unmanned aircraft, or by a person?
    I think there is too much made of assassinations by drones, rather than of the bigger issue, assassinations, period.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    So what's your solution Masnick? Put boots on the ground risking greater loss of American lives or simply let these people continue plotting and carrying out murders and assassinations of their own? Would you feel better about if we used roadside bombs like they do?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    I agree that the delivery system is of little consequence. But regarding assassinations, the guys getting surprise visits from Hellfire missiles are also involved (directly or playing on the same team as those) planting IEDs. Fuck them and fuck the notion of fighting human garbage like that with one hand tied behind our back.

    Back in Vietnam, snipers would be dispatched to assassinate high ranking NVA officers. Sgt. Carlos Hathcock used to drop these guys from 1000+ yards. Why is that different?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 10:41am

    Re:

    Maybe we should slap-fight the enemy instead.

    Pacifist = Pussy

     

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    art guerrilla (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 10:44am

    Re: The problem was being ok with this stuff on foreigners

    non-amerikans = human beans ? ? ?

    well, clearly *that* can't be true, otherwise we are immoral murderers...

    um, uh oh...

    i would be VERY nervous about a nuremburg trial part II, if i were a flunky for Empire...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 10:47am

    Re:

    Well, my solution would be to create a branch of the US government that can adjudicate whether or not a person is criminally guilty of the crimes that the administration says he is. One side would represent the administration and present the case that the suspect is guilty. Another side would represent the suspect and attempt to disprove the allegations. The judge, or jury, can then rule on whether the prosecution has proven the suspect guilty and, if so, whether such crimes warrant the death penalty. Such a system would help to filter targets and ensure that the people targeted for death are the ones who actually deserve it.

    Of course, such a system is far to radical for this day and age.

     

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  27.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    Re:

    Before that question can be answered, I think a more fundamental question has to be addressed: what are we trying to accomplish?

     

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  28.  
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    Rocco Maglio (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Turns out Obama is good at killing people too

    Obama Told Aides He's 'Really Good At Killing People,' New Book 'Double Down' Claims

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/03/obama-drones-double-down_n_4208815.html

     

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  29.  
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    Dirkmaster (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re:

    Right on, John! We are spending WAY too much time saying "We gotta do this, because...terrorism" without ever asking what are we trying to accomplish? Because if it's "keep everybody safe" or "end terrorism", we might as well just tear up the Constitution, because you can't do that in a free society. Hell, I don't think you can do that PERIOD. But certainly not in a land of laws and civil liberties. But I think that if we quit murdering people in other countries because we think they might be terrorists, if we make a big show of it, it might start to make it so these countries hate us a little less. The fact is that we have SO lost the moral high road that we are every bit as bad as "our enemies". Until we change THAT, we really can't say or do anything ethically.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re:

    I'd guess that targets are already filtered to a fairly high degree. You don't throw a $68,000 missile at Hassan Bin Sobaar the mortar man. He's not worth much more than an eight cent 7.62mm round.

    BTW John, how many of the Americans killed in their IED blasts "deserved" it? Or is that somehow different?

     

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    BigKeithO, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 12:12pm

    Re: Re:

    Or quit stomping around the world blowing shit up, stealing resources and making more enemies? NOT being the global dick <> pussy.

    'Merica!!

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do you think Americans wouldn't be planting IEDs if roles were reversed? That would be called patriotism if it was happen in the US, but because its in some other country its "fighting terrorism".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Probably so. But I don't think you'd hear a lot of whining from the citizens of the invading country if it used drones to take out the leadership of the resistance planting those IEDs.

    God you guys are so soft. I'd have thought all those hours of playing Call Of Duty would have helped you develop at least a tiny set of balls.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not soft. Ethical. There's a difference.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:39pm

    No, soft. Softer than butter. Seriously? You want an adversarial procedure before a tribunal before our fighting men are allowed to take out the leadership of the enemy forces? Why? Is it limited to drone strikes or do our snipers have to hold their fire until they get permission to drop the hammer on an enemy commander. Since the dawn if humankind the command and control structure of enemy forces has always been targeted. Based on radio intercepts, the US shot down Admiral Yamamoto's plane, killing him. You can't be suggesting that there should first have been a hearing, can you?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Stealing resources? Whose?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Double tap? You mean like pulling the trigger twice? That's what you think should be a war crime? What a joke.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Earshplittin' Loudenboomers coming up.

    That's all right, boys. Keep it up. Eventually your victims will arrive at the opinion that they have nothing to lose. You're going to kill them anyway, so they might as well get something out of it. Followed shortly by repeated incidents of the former victims carrying backpack nukes near US establishments, and setting them off.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    No, double tap in this context means "blow up the target and then blow up those that respond as clearly they must be accomplices for responding to wounded and disabled".

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Oh, like when terrorists explode a car bomb and detonate another one when medical and rescue personnel show up? Got it.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:27pm

    Re: Re:

    The main issue I see with that is that it'd easily be rigged to have the most half-assed defenders who would lose 99% of their cases against the average Judge Judy viewer with no legal experience. Meanwhile the prosecutors will be ruthless sociopaths unconcerned with legality who fabricate and conceal evidence at will.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You forget about the military industrial complex. They would blow up their own mother to sell more missiles. Budget is clearly not a source of constraint to our bloated military.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:30pm

    Re:

    Really even before drones were on a drawing board the CIA should have been put down decades ago. The paranoid sociopaths have created far more problems than they have ever solved.

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re:

    But regarding assassinations, the guys getting surprise visits from Hellfire missiles are also involved (directly or playing on the same team as those) planting IEDs.

    You're saying there have been no innocent bystanders killed in drone strikes?

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 6th, 2013 @ 9:54pm

    Re:

    Based on radio intercepts, the US shot down Admiral Yamamoto's plane, killing him. You can't be suggesting that there should first have been a hearing, can you?

    The difference is it was clear who Yamamoto was, and even if they'd been wrong, it would have certainly at least been a member of an opposing military. With the current situation, it's just "that guy behind the rock... no, the one on the left. Yeah, he's a terrorist. Trust me - now kill him." I don't think our intelligence is good enough to conduct killings like that. If we were at war with another country and targeting their military leadership, it would be a whole different story. But we most definitely are not.

     

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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 1:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Nov 6th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Yes, exactly like that.

    So you admit the CIA is working with terrorist tactics?

     

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  47.  
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    Niall (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Iraq, anyone else you invaded or forced unequal trade treaties on, the health of the whole world with your abuse of the environment and economic bullying...

     

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  48.  
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    Niall (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re:

    Because at the very least they are putting themselves in the same environment and have at least some personal risk to make them cautious.

    Besides, remind me how well your 'targeted assassinations' helped your war efforts?

     

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    rawcookie (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 9:33am

    Is it just me or does it look to anyone else like the hellfire missile carrying drone has become the new guillotine?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Innocent bystanders? How do you determine who is innocent? If I'm in a war zone, I'm not going to be hanging out with a high profile target for the fun of it. And if I was a high profile target, I certainly would go out of my way to disassociate with innocents. Instead, these miserable cowards have no moral qualms about using human shields- though theres no evidence that human shields were being used in the Hellfire strikes I'm aware of.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Wait, being in the same environment would make you more cautious? It'd make me shoot first and ask questions later if my ass was on the line.

    As far as the worth of targeted assassinations, it's hard to predict what the dead guy would've done in the future. So you have to rely on his past. Targeting command and control structures of opposing forces has worked pretty well for centuries.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re:

    No it's not the Abdul behind the rock that is disappearing in a pink cloud. It is high-value guys that are specifically identified and targeted.

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Innocent bystanders? How do you determine who is innocent?

    Someone who hasn't committed any crimes.

    "A joint research study released by Stanford University and the New York School of Law, recently claimed that US drone warfare had killed 50 civilians for each terrorist taken out in the name of Washington’s counter-terrorism strategy of targeted killing. "

    Al Majala, in 2009, was one example of where a drone attack went tragically wrong. At least 41 people were killed including 14 women and 21 children. Summing up the shock and grief, one angry survivor, an elderly man, said: “If they kill innocent children and call them al-Qaeda, then we are all al-Qaeda. If children are terrorists, then we are all terrorists.”

    The range of public estimates of civilian deaths from drone strikes, at the low end, includes the June 2011 statement by then-White House Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan that there had not been “a single collateral death” in a year as a result of American drones. At the other extreme, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based non-profit organization, puts the number of civilian casualties between 84 and 193 in 2010, and between 52 and 146 in 2011—the years that together encapsulate the period in which Brennan said there had been none.

    Anyway, I could go on. But I'll ask again, are you claiming that everyone killed by drones was involved with terrorism in some way?

    And of course the problem is not one of drones specifically, but of attacks, particularly air attacks, based on faulty information. For example:

    "On July 6, 2008, a large number of Afghan civilians were walking the bride of a wedding ceremony to the groom's village in an area called Kamala in Dih Bala district of the eastern province of Nangarhar.[6][7] When the group stopped for a rest, it was hit in succession by three bombs from United States military aircraft."

    I say particularly air attacks because if that had been soldiers on the ground presumably they would have seen that it was a wedding party with women and children. And before you mention it, no, I'm not saying that the solution is to send in the Army.

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wait, being in the same environment would make you more cautious? It'd make me shoot first and ask questions later if my ass was on the line.

    Perhaps what he meant to say is that commanders (and hopefully politicians, though this is less likely) will be more cautious about sending in ground forces because of the increased risk, compared to their willingness to order air strikes since there's comparatively little risk.

    And there seems to be almost no consequences for anyone in the US if we hit the wrong people, which is maybe the root of this whole problem.

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It is high-value guys that are specifically identified and targeted.

    Right, specifically identified within the executive branch and not overseen by anyone, with no consequences when mistakes are made.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Who fucking cares? Due process for enemy commanders in a combat zone? It's a war and enemy commanders are targeted. That how its worked for a long time and makes perfect sense.

     

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  57.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's not really a war, though.

     

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  58.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Due process for enemy commanders in a combat zone? It's a war and enemy commanders are targeted.

    What John said. Also, if I'm not mistaken, these are only combat zones because of the missiles and bombs we're firing and dropping. If it were not for us, there wouldn't be any combat there. We're talking about attacking people wherever they happen to be at the time we find them, not killing soldiers and commanders on a battlefield.

     

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    Lake City Dental, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 1:47pm

    Condemned to repeat?

    Sort of funny that you bring up Executive Order 11905, which was supposed to improve oversight and ban political assassination. In theory it made sweeping reforms, in reality, it did not...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Tell that to the soldiers fighting and dying.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2013 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You may not have noticed, but since Korea few adversaries have had much of an appetite to line up against us and take us on. The battlefield in an insurgency is wherever the insurgents operate.

     

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    nasch (profile), Nov 7th, 2013 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The battlefield in an insurgency is wherever the insurgents operate.

    Exactly, so we can't use the same procedures and just pretend we're fighting the Korean War again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except that such targeted strikes are not the same as two armies arrayed in battle lines. The objective is still to kill battlefield commanders though. What would you recommend General? An artillery barrage? High altitude bombing?

    The enemy hates the drone strikes and drone strikes are used because they're so effective and killing high-value bad guys. And relative to deploying bombers or artillery, there's comparatively little collateral damage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 8th, 2013 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The enemy hates the drone strikes and drone strikes are used because they're so effective and killing high-value bad guys.

    You seriously think that's the only reason? You don't think people hate them because they're afraid to go outside because of all the civilian casualties?

    What would you recommend General?

    I doubt there is a solution, because the first step is to decide what level of civilian casualties is acceptable. Politically, that's impossible to do, so we can't proceed to the next steps of analyzing the data to determine the current level of civilian casualties and changing our procedures to reduce the numbers if they are not acceptable.

    So we continue killing civilians, apologizing, paying the families of the victims, and nothing changes. Because nobody in the US is really materially harmed when mistakes happen. As long as there is no target for collateral damage (as little as possible doesn't count because you can't reliably determine if it's been met), that probably will not change. You can't hold someone accountable for failing to meet a goal that doesn't exist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2013 @ 7:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Evasive much? thought we were talking drone strikes, now it's the soldiers..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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