Last month we heard that a drone attack in Pakistan had killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the second-in-command of al-Qaida. Are we supposed to rejoice that these unmanned aircraft are killing enemies of the United States all over the world? Will they make us safer?
A drone, in this sense, is an Unmanned Aircraft System or a remotely piloted aircraft. This machine functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity. The U.S. military is building drones of many shapes, sizes, and capabilities, including increasing numbers that are weaponized. Both the military—especially the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)—and the CIA use weaponized drones in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and are expanding that use to Yemen, Somalia and beyond. Nonlethal drones are used much more widely, including inside the US.
The CIA claims that since May 2010 drones have killed more than 600 “militants” and not a single noncombatant. Many familiar with robotic warfare are incredulous about this claim. A British Bureau of Investigative Journalism concluded after a long investigation in Pakistan that at least 45 civilians were killed in 10 strikes during this past year.
Read more: Drone Warfare http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/13/drone-warfare/