What about Drones?

President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan for Secretary of Defense has prompted nationwide discussion on the use of unmanned aircraft, or “drones” for limited warfare, intelligence gathering, and surveillance.

The issues surrounding use of these machine should be examined by the American people. We need to deal with the moral and human rights questions that are now being brought forth from many concerned citizens and Congress. We should make ourselves aware of how these drones are used presently, and how further applications in law enforcement and defense will change the administration of justice both at home and abroad.

My impression as a citizen of the United States is that these devices are being used mostly in military strategies under the auspices of the Defense department, but that the CIA is refining their use for surveillance and intelligence gathering. It is plausible and (knowing how technology spreads) possible that domestic agencies such as FBI, Homeland Security, ATF, FEMA, etc are seeking legal authority for law enforcement intelligence gathering and surveillance on the home front.

Here are a few questions in my mind so far that need to be dealt with:

~ Can precise use of drones really minimize and reduce collateral damage and loss of innocent civilian life in warfare?

~ Are drone assassinations a more humane way to eliminate terrorists and criminals than traditional means?

~ Who makes the decision, and on what information basis, about who is to be targeted?

~ Will target selection by military personnel and law enforcement officials amount to elimination of due process of law for the person(s) targeted?

~ What are the long-range implications for constitutional rights, such as trial by jury, and the old principle of “innocent until proven guilty”?

These questions are what stuck in my mind after listening, this morning, to a very informative panel discussion on the Diane Rehm Show, National Public Radio. If you have an hour to explore this important topic, I recommend you listen to this analysis as presented by guest-host Tom Gjelten and other informed participants.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

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