Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Drone Wars

Mark Mazzetti is shedding light on America's "secret army" in his upcoming book, The Way of the Knife.  Obama finds himself in hot water these days over the constitutionality of his continued use of drones to carry out hits abroad.  The CIA has its own personal drone fleet in addition to that of the military.  Obama has expressed himself that he would like to see the two folded back into one, but continues to favor these surgical strikes against believed terrorists.

The use of drones is nothing new.  Remotely piloted vehicles, or RPVs, go back to the 50s but were primarily used as surveillance planes.  It was during the Vietnam War that RPVs began to carry missiles and were used for air strikes.  The newest generation of drones were extensively used under the Bush administration, but Obama has extended the "drone armada" even further, as Oliver Stone noted in his last episode of the Untold History of the United States, using it to police the world's air space.

Mazzetti calls it a "shadow war" carried out by the CIA that has resulted in growing concern over the US reliance on drones to carry out what essentially amount to extralegal executions, including those of American citizens who have joined one or another terrorist group abroad.


  1. The biggest worry for me is the precedent that is being set in carrying out these hits. Democrats were very critical when Bush resorted to these methods to take out suspected terrorists in countries other than those the US was fighting in, and here is Obama now doing the same, claiming that there is nothing specifically stated in the Constitution to stop him from doing the same.

  2. I have very ambiguous feelings about this. Just because there's nothing in the Constitution, doesn't mean it's right. On the other hand, as a nation we authorize the slaughter of thousands on foreign soils and think nothing of it. And some of those killed easily could be US citizens who have put on the "uniform" of the other side.

    As part of the Brennan testimony I heard that he wants to move the program from the CIA to the military where it would at least have a little more Congressional involvement.

    The biggest problem with the drones is that there is no oversight outside the White House. Obama better think long and hard before leaving a program in place to give this kind of unlimited power to kill any one anywhere to his successors.

  3. Yea, we assume Obama manages this program well, but it is giving far too much latitude to the CIA. Give them an inch, they will take a mile each and every time.

  4. I am much more willing to sanction the use of drones without Congressional oversight than I'm willing to sanction preemptive war with Congressional oversight. Indeed, Congress is so severely dysfunctional and corrupt that I'm not comfortable with its oversight of anything. For me this is a simple question of the lesser of two evils. Not even close in my opinion.