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Transcript of Drones
War on Terror Drones are the worst form of war...except for all the others Why Policymakers Like Drones
- Sustained persistence over potential targets
- Near-instantaneous responsiveness and can be diverted at the last moment
- Zero risk to U.S military personnel
- Far less collateral damage than airstrikes Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF)
- joint resolution passed by Congress September 18, 2001
- the president can "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons."
- no geographical limit
- AUMF justifies the current "War on Terror" Statistics
- We don't know
- The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children.
- "Credible estimates find that, between 2006 and early 2009, about 700 civilians were killed in the course of targeting 14 individuals — a ratio of 50 people killed to each one targeted." - Mary Ellen O'Connell Global Opinion on U.S. Drone Campaign
- Egypt: 89% disapproval, 6% approval
- China: 55% disapproval, 25% approval
- Turkey: 81% disapproval, 9% approval
- Pakistan: 83% disapproval
- United States: 56% approval, 26% disapproval (Feb. 2013, similar to July 2012)
- 68% Republicans approved, 58% Democrats and 51% independents.
- American voters say they think it is illegal for the U.S. government to target its own citizens living abroad with drone attacks: 50% agree, 24% disagree
- In a UNC study that posed scenarios for using drones, the death of civilians was just as significant in causing support to plummet as the possibility of American military casualties. Drone Controversies - Drone strikes perpetuate the myth that military strikes are an effective counter-terrorism strategy
- Every civilian killed "represents an alienated family,
a new desire for revenge, and more recruits for a militant
movement ...” David Kilcullen
- "The more remote an individual is from the actual act of killing, the easier it is to carry out." Mary Ellen O'Connell
- Lack of accountability because of the secrecy of the program
- Issue of public trust in U.S. officials who have "more information" Recommendations Short Term
- The Obama administration's policy should match its rhetoric.
- The process should be transparent. Institutionalize the "playbook" and make it public. After a strike, the reasoning should be released to the general public (striking necessary details from the record to protect security interests).
- The CIA should be focused on intelligence gathering. All targeted strikes should be conducted through the Defense Department.
- Explicit consent should be required from the country where a drone strike is conducted.
- End signature strikes.
- Create a judicial panel to oversee drone strikes (possibly modeled after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court).
- The U.S. Congress must hold hearings to asses the AUMF.
- The Obama adminisration should take the lead on a transparent process with other countries to formulate international norms on drones.
- The United States must fix its detention policy to make capturing terrorists a more feasible option. Obama's Program "My most sacred duty as commander in chief is to keep the American people safe." - Barack Obama Drone Limitations - Precision is only as good as the intelligence
- U.S. depends on host-state support (through extensive side payments and foreign aid)
- Secrecy causes rumors of policies and attacks that cannot be confirmed or denied
- International and domestic pressure could restrict their use Controversial Practices Signature Strikes
- "Instead of having to confirm the identity of a suspected militant leader before attacking, [signature strikes] allowed American operators to strike convoys of vehicles that bear the characteristics of Qaeda or Taliban leaders on the run, for instance." David Sanger & Eric Schmitt
All military age males in a strike zone are combatants
- targeted site is hit multiple times in quick succession
- evidence that this practice has killed first responders What the Obama Administration Claims Individuals targeted by drones are limited to
- “high-level al-Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks,” Harold Koh
- “individuals who are a threat to the United States,” John Brennan
- individuals involved in “some sort of operational plot against the United States,” Barack Obama
- “specific senior operational leaders of al-Qaeda and associated forces,” Eric Holder
"Drones are one tool that we use." Barack Obama, October 2012
"It's this surgical precision - the ability with laser-like focus to eliminate the cancerous tumor called an al-Qaida terrorist, while limiting damage to the tissue around it that makes this counterterrorism tool so essential." - John Brennan Other Legal Justifications - laws of armed conflict apply, including necessity, proportionality, distinction, and humanity.
- right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN charter (since targeted country is unable or unwilling to counter imminent and significant threats) “Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. Even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war.” - Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize Speech - In Afghanistan, armed fighters were responsible for 81 percent of civilian casualties, while eight percent were caused by Afghan and NATO forces (UN report, 2012)
-12% drop in Afghan civilian deaths in 2012 the first such decrease in six years.
- Drones aren't the problem, air strikes are (109 less civilians killed in 2012 from U.S. drone and air strikes combined) Some Facts on Drones - Unmanned aerial systems
- Drones are controlled from the United States and secret bases (Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Niger)
- Blast radius from a Hellfire missile can extend anywhere from 15-20 meters
- First reported drone strike against Al Qaeda was in Yemen in 2002
- U.S. drone inventory is increasing: 50 in 2001 to 7500 in 2012 (5% can be armed).
- 95% of nonbattlefield targeted killings are drones Drones Terrorize Communities “The drones were terrifying. From the ground, it is impossible to determine who or what they are tracking as they circle overhead. The buzz of a distant propeller is a constant reminder of imminent death.” - David Rhodes, NYT journalist captured by the Taliban in Pakistan
“God knows whether they’ll strike us again or not. But they’re always surveying us, they’re always over us, and you never know when they’re going to strike and attack.” - Anonymous, from Pakistan
When we’re sitting together to have a meeting, we’re scared there might be a strike. When you can hear the drone circling in the sky, you think it might strike you. We’re always scared. We always have this fear in our head.” - Community Leader from Pakistan The Big Questions Does the War on Terror have a geographical limit?
Who are high-level al-Qaeda operatives?
How do you keep the executive branch in check?
What does winning look like in the War on Terror?
Can drone strikes bring a negative peace? “The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes … is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”
Stanley McChrystal, January 2013 Backlash Abroad "Contrary to conventional wisdom, we see little evidence that these actions are generating widespread anti-American sentiment or recruits for AQAP.... In short, targeted strikes against the most senior and most dangerous AQAP terrorists are not the problem, they are part of the solution."
John Brennan, August 2012 - "We're not going to rest until al Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas. We're determined to do that." (This Week with George Stephanopoulos, April 29, 2012)
- "Whenever it is possible to capture a suspected terrorist, it is the unqualified preference of the administration to take custody of that individual so we can obtain information that is vital to the safety and security of the American people." ("Strengthening Our Security by Adhering to Our Values and Laws," speech, Sept. 16, 2011)
- The Obama administration engages in "additional review if the al Qaeda terrorist is a U.S. citizen." Three U.S. citizens have been killed by drones More from John Brennan The Problem: Administration Claims Don't Match the Realities on the Ground Are Drones Winning Hearts
and Minds? John Brennan