Who is the U.S. killing with its drones?

November 5, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More

What would you think about someone who started shooting a gun from the top of the Empire State Building in order to kill “bad people” walking on the sidewalks below? Assume that he could tell very little, if anything, about the people he was killing.  Also assume that when we asked him to justify how he knew he was shooting “bad people” he asked us to trust him and questioned our loyalty to the United States to the extent we doubted him.  Now consider America’s largely indiscriminate killings using its huge fleet of drones.  Glenn Greenwald puts it in perspective:

After I linked to [a New York Times] Op-Ed yesterday on Twitter — by writing that “every American who cheers for drone strikes should confront the victims of their aggression” — I was predictably deluged with responses justifying Obama’s drone attacks on the ground that they are necessary to kill The Terrorists. Reading the responses, I could clearly discern the mentality driving them: I have never heard of 99% of the people my government kills with drones, nor have I ever seen any evidence about them, but I am sure they are Terrorists. That is the drone mentality in both senses of the word; it’s that combination of pure ignorance and blind faith in government authorities that you will inevitably hear from anyone defending President Obama’s militarism . . . .  As it turns out, it isn’t only the President’s drone-cheering supporters who have no idea who is being killed by the program they support; neither does the CIA itself. A Wall Street Journal article yesterday described internal dissension in the administration to Obama’s broad standards for when drone strikes are permitted, and noted that the “bulk” of the drone attacks — the bulk of them – “target groups of men believed to be militants associated with terrorist groups, but whose identities aren’t always known.” As Spencer Ackerman put it: “The CIA is now killing people without knowing who they are, on suspicion of association with terrorist groups.”

Take a look at Greenwald’s article to get a feel for what it is like for innocent families to live in terror of attack by drones. I wrote on this topic recently, actually twice, and I find it profoundly disturbing that this sort of sky-adjudication and killing is being done in my name by our large staff of predator pilots.

The way we are fighting our ongoing drone “war” appears incompatible with a genuine attempt to seek lasting peace.  We don’t have any confidence that we are killing people who threaten the United States. Shame on us.


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Category: Orwellian, The Middle East, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    Thirty-one seconds after the pilot reported muzzle flashes, the Marines at Alcatraz ordered that the Predator be prepared to strike if the shooters could be confirmed as hostile. At 8:49 a.m., 29 minutes after the ambush began, they authorized the pilot to fire.

    In minutes, two Americans would be dead.


    If the dead had not been Americans, would the military have simply declared them to be “insurgents”? Problem solved.

  2. Mike M. says:

    Erich- “If the dead had not been Americans, would the military have simply declared them to be “insurgents”? Problem solved.”
    Your logic may earn you a cushy position in the State Department. Nice spin!

    As history has shown, yesterday’s “Freedom Fighters” may suddenly become tomorrow’s “Terrorists”, through the mysterious alchemical transmutation I call “putty politics”. Pull that reality taffy into any shape which suits you, Mr. Government Agent. Some (but not all) of us will follow along, just waiting to embrace your next label du jour.

    • Jim Razinha says:

      If we (the administration, the media) don’t like who is in power, then the bad guys are rebels or freedom fighters; if we do, then they are insurgents.

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