Senate Droning On

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    This report "Living Under Drones" is excellent and complements the website Lowie linked to above:

    http://livingunderdrones.org/report/

    The findings are truly appalling.

    @VadersLaMent - the problem is that the evidence which is used to 'condemn' a so-called 'terrorist' is ridiculously flimsy and unreliable. That is why only around 2% of drone casualties are confirmed as 'top level' militants or 'high level targets', the rest of the deaths and casualties are innocent civilians, including around two hundred children - figures quoted in the report. On this basis, the drone strikes are not in fact killing people who are "joining terrorist groups and engaging in their planning" but are actually killing bystanders and people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or are not identified properly as being militants which are legally cleared as targets. The US can only carry out a targeted killing in self defence if there is objective evidence of an armed attack or an imminent threat. According to the report, there is little publicly available evidence to support a claim that the drone targeted killings in Pakistan meets these standards.

    @Mr44 is most likely correct that the drone strikes do not legally qualify as 'war crimes' but there is no doubt whatsoever that the drone strikes violate international human rights laws and constitute "extra-judicial assassinations".

    What the US is doing in Pakistan is exactly what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank for decades - a program of collective punishment. All of the international human rights organizations quite rightly oppose any program of collective punishment because it violates international laws that protect civilians, regardless of whether there is a nation to nation armed conflict. It's truly appalling that Obama is now doing the same thing, by remote control.
    Adam of Nuchtern and SuperWatto like this.
  2. Lazy Storm Trooper Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 18, 2012
    star 4
    I believe as long as drones don't kill American citizens or innocent non-hostiles (I know both have and are happening) I see them as a very good asset to our armed forces and the CIA. But if drones keep killing those groups I think we need to rethink the way we do thing. I think we should have more precise targeting also instead of bombing an area. So to round it up I don't mind drones but we need to look over how we use them again.
  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
  4. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Define terrorist.
  5. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 6
    its me. im a posting terrorist

    erm excuse me i mean hurf durf clearly the drone threat is a very real one that we must all face together as Americans. I, for one, believe that machines flying around remotely blowing up groups of people is, however, clearly only a tool, and one that may be harnessed for good, as well as for the ill (no sleep 'til brooklyn). this is an opinion i have formed from my vast experience of literally hours of watching cable news channels and reading opinion pieces by the great luminaries of our time, the likes of tom friedman and even, though you may find his rhetorical style unorthodox, master p

    the new yorker had a piece on this yesterday that i think you will find both fluffy AND satisfying in its own right
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Feb 9, 2013
  6. beezel26 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 11, 2003
    star 7
    The release of the documents means only one thing, Obama is clearly jittery about the power of the CIA. There are two sides of a president. The idealist and the pragmatic. Every president has to be pragmatic and let the CIA do its thing to prevent problems. They have no choice. It is better to have a few casualties from another country then a lot of Americans dead on CNN. But every president no matter how much a conservative republican isn't happy with the power of the CIA. They like the military structure because they have the power along with the politicians. But with the CIA, nobody but the director of the CIA has the power and the president only knows what the cia wants him to know. Obama is happy with Fox news for standing up to him. The president needs fox to keep this in the public eye so congress can act and give the CIA some restraint. He can't do it. The CIA is and will always be the number one enemy of the state. At the same time it will always be the number one patriot.
  7. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    So you assume the CIA only prevents problems? Any president should do his best to try and prevent the CIA from creating more problems.
    Last edited by ShaneP, Feb 9, 2013
  8. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
  9. I Are The Internets Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2012
    star 6
    The subject of drones being used to find terrorists has always made me uncomfortable, but I honestly cannot think of a better solution.
  10. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 3
    I support the use of drones in principle, but the state of the discourse surrounding their deployment by the Obama Administration is and has been abysmal. First of all, the notion that anyone we kill with drones is a "terrorist" Really? While I absolutely believe the President should have the right to use drones in an ad hoc manner against imminent threats or extremely high-value targets, the parameters of what constitutes an acceptable target for killing by the Obama Administration is incredibly broad; in fact, as near as I can tell, it's never even been defined, other than that as long as it's someone with a Muslim-sounding name, we can be sure he was a Terrorist, which is appalling, to say the least. One of the greatest rhetorical canards employed by apologists for jihadist terror is that it's actually not motivated by Islamism but instead part of a tit-for-tat cycle of violence. I can think of few things that would perpetuate such a cycle more than Obama's seemingly indiscriminate murder of thousands of Muslim civilians as "collateral damage" of drone strikes against targets who could not possibly have posed some kind of imminent threat to national security. As long as we obfuscate what motivates true violent jihadists--a very plausible and rational interpretation of Islam--, "terrorist" will remain little more than a synonym for "Muslim", and Muslims who would have had absolutely no interest whatsoever in jihad will find themselves ever more sympathetic to that cause, and so will continue on our interminable and absurd "War on Terror".
  11. Alpha-Red Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 25, 2004
    star 5
    Eh, thousands? So we have a reliable number now on how many civilian casualties there's been?
  12. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    It's possibly as high as the low thousands.
  13. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    So, I missed that this happened until today, when I've been discovering that Rand Paul did something surprisingly good here. In trying to highlight part of the drone issue, Rand Paul filibusterered for 13 hours the other day over not having gotten an answer to if the president can order drone strikes against Americans in the US. Apparently, the first time the question was raised over if there was presidential authority for that, the answer was just that that hasn't happened or wouldn't be done. Now, he's finally gotten told that no, the president can not authorize such an attack.

    Paul's support seems split from the Republican party, with some opposing Rand Paul's focus on this (like John McCain and Lindsey Graham), while getting support from Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, who had lengthy 'questions' to help fill that time. Additional support at points from other Republicans: John Barasso (Wyo.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), John Cornyn (Tex.), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), John Thune (S.D.), and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.). Additionally, he got a lengthy 'question' from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, that included a lot of agreement with the concerns that Rand Paul rose.

    What may be interesting to note here, and with the caveat that attack politics often trumps all, is that these are primarily newer Senators, especially Paul, Cruz, and Lee, all of whom were elected in/after 2010. Of the 10 Republicans listed above, half of them were elected in 2010 for the first time to Senate, and it will be exceptionally interesting to see if this idea of a limit on the government's authority in these matters will remain when we next have a Republican administration, and if this is simply contrarianism to Obama, or an actual shift in how the party views federal power.
    Summer Dreamer likes this.
  14. Lazy Storm Trooper Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 18, 2012
    star 4
    Well I also want the U.S. to go to war with Iran, North Korea, and China (Chinese tried to hack my Gmail and I am mad)...
  15. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    More progress on drones, now from the other house and the other side of the aisle, as a small group of House Democrats are questioning the drone policy, as well. The 8 are questioning the policy on a number of fronts (and the article covers them better than my quick rehash). Hopefully, this will start to see more support from a larger share in the party, but it should be no surprise that there is a segment of the Democrats in Congress who are going to be openly critical of this, and some of the names aren't surprises.
  16. wannasee Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 24, 2007
    star 4
    In its very first sentence the memo states its purpose: “to set forth a legal framework for considering circumstances in which the government could use lethal force against a US citizen...”

    In its second sentence the memo states that its purpose is NOT “to determine minimum requirements necessary to render such action lawful.”

    Things like “which officials have authority” and "what are the precise definitions for words" would be covered in a memo designed to address what the minimum requirements would be.

    But that's not what this memo is about!!

    The memo is about providing a legal framework, not about determining minimum requirements.

    I know people don't like reading documents written in legalese, but for the love of God, Democrats, read the first two sentences...
    Last edited by wannasee, Mar 12, 2013
  17. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
  18. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Can we get more of a thought out contribution to the discussion than a link and a 'no'?
    Last edited by Lowbacca_1977, Mar 13, 2013
  19. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    Warfare? Fine. Over my head spying on me or anyone else? No. The rumblings have been there for years with headlines about measures for 30,000 drones in our skies in a few years. One person said in that link that once you buy a smart phone your privacy is gone. That does not make it ok to put drones over our heads.

    It is a fine line. Police patrol is one thing. But even police cars, some not all, have infrared cameras that can look through walls. Someone I know worked on police cars and could fie up an camrea and see everything people were doing in the car lot...through walls.

    You want to use weaponized or spying drones to stop bad guys then do so. You want to set up a prison for honest people? Go piss off.
  20. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    I would say that a lot would depend on exactly how they are used.

    For example. I've read of proposals for using drones to patrol the boarder, or to help monitor large areas of National Forests for things like forest fires, or marijuana farms. I don't have a problem with either of those uses, because they represent legitimate government concerns, and are mostly going to be in areas with little or no population.

    I don't even have a problem with some uses in more populous areas. For example, I think that drones could be used very effectively for traffic monitoring (much like helicopters are currently used). Similarly, I don't have a problem with using them as part of a specific surveillance operation, again much like a police department could use a helicopter today.

    However, where I draw the line is when you go from a specific surveillance operation (i.e. targeting a specific individual, such as tailing one particular car) to a general surveillance operation. The former is a legitimate use, because of its targeted nature. The latter is inappropriate because it is designed to reduce the privacy of the public in general.

    To use your example of the infrared cameras, I don't have a problem with their use for specific cases (done with the proper authorization, such as a warrant), but I have a problem with their use on the general public as a matter of routine policy.
  21. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    In an interview, our Minister of Foreign Affairs called it "almost hallucinatory" to see how people commandeer drones "in a computery setting" on the other side of the world.So he went to something called the Advisory Committee on Public Law Issues, with the question: isn't this too easy? Isn't this just a little too risk-free for the user?
    They said: it is. You don't need any new laws. They say, look at it the other way: armed drones facilitate better target selection, and there is more time to get some legal advice.
    But they can't say anything about the psychological aspect of how much easier it's become to pull the trigger. There's no legal relevance, nor scientific evidence for it yet.

    So my question is this. Can anybody tell me what I'm missing, when I say that the legal relevance is not there because they will not be changing the law, and that if the scientific evidence for the psychological aspect is not there... then there's also no scientific evidence that it's alright. I'd say, whether you're for or against the use of armed drones, this conclusion makes no sense.

    Back me up here guys - or tear my argument down, it's all the same to me, as long as you do it thoroughly. I just need to know what makes the most sense, because I'll have the opportunity to interview the chairman of the Committee next week.
  22. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Drone pilots have actually been diagnosed and treated for PTSD. It's definitely not easier.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/12/19/143926857/report-high-levels-of-burnout-in-u-s-drone-pilots

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/10/ptsd-drones_n_1954940.html

    http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2013...carnage-doesnt-prevent-ptsd-for-drone-pilots/

    The notion that "well they're not there so it's easy" is a false logic. You're literally looking at the people you're about to kill through a high-resolution video camera; it's not a vague set of navigational coordinates (cruise missiles) or sensor data (radar). You quite literally put crosshairs on people who can't really defend themselves. And there's the mental aspect of not really having any control over your actions; you can choose to shoot or not with a rifle, but drone operators are sniping people who have literally been selected to die. There's no "well maybe I don't have to" to make it okay.
  23. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I thought this is worth to bring up again as we've got another example of it in the news, it seems.

    News is coming out of Yemen that 15 were killed, likely by a drone but that's not been confirmed. Not terrorists, they were actually on their way to a wedding. So this does seem to be just more of this pattern of bombing people in foreign countries without really addressing the harm being done, both to those that are being killed and injured, and that it seems like this is the exactly the sort of thing that encourages militancy to spread because, you know, the US is bombing civilians like this. It is worth noting, though, that it seems like in the last year or so the number of drone strikes have declined, and in both Yemen and Pakistan there's been fewer strikes than in 2012, but they are still happening.
    Violent Violet Menace likes this.
  24. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I'm willing to believe that increased public scrutiny has led to some changes in the way drone strikes are authorized. I hope that's the case. At the same time I worry that public interest in the U.S. over Yemeni and Pakistani drone strikes has long since peaked.
    Violent Violet Menace likes this.
  25. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 3
    Yeah, that'll do the dead civilians loads of good.

    To be honest, I'm still having a hard time understanding the drones. Folks who are in full-blown hysteria over the NSA who seem to labor under the impression that Obama reneged on some of his high-minded promises about civil liberties vis-a-vis spying was because he was led into a bright chamber and brainwashed by the Illuminati drive me nuts, because there the reason for his transformation is rather obvious; the "cost" of spying("omg Big Brother!") is entirely abstract, whereas the benefits are material(preventing terrorist attacks). With drones, I simply can't imagine that the net result is that sympathy and engagement with terrorist organizations wane. Aside from a real heavy hitter like Awlaki, it seems like quite a stretch to imagine that even many of the targets of the drone strikes presented some kind of imminent threat to national security, to say absolutely nothing of the grotesque collateral damage.