“In May 2013, President Barack Obama’s aides indicated that they were prepared to phase out the most controversial element of the administration’s drone war: so-called “signature strikes” against military-age men on battlefields around the worldthat took place even if American officials didn’t know who the targets were — or if they were actively plotting against the United States.
The tactic had sparked fierce criticism from human rights groups and some lawmakers,who said it effectively gave the CIA carte blanche to bomb groups of men in countries ranging from Yemen to Pakistan simply because of where they lived and whether they showed any behavior commonly associated with militants.Opponents argued that the strikes were certain to kill innocents given that U.S. officials knew so little about who they were targeting and had no concrete way of identifying the dead afterward.”1
We often trust our government when it comes to defending our freedoms from abroad. We think that surely, the United States government will know what is best all of the time and do it! Unfortunately, the truth is that not all of our tactics are moral and just.
Before we begin, let’s define some key terms in our...
International Terrorism is defined as“individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with designated foreign terrorist organizations or nations” 3
Due Process is defined as “The due process guarantees under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution Clause provide that the government shall not take a person's life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The due process clause of the 5th Amendment applies to the federal government and the 14th Amendment applies to the states.Due process involves both procedural and substantive aspects. Procedural due process requires fairness in the methods used to deprive a person of life, liberty or property, while substantive due process requires valid governmental justification for taking a person's life' liberty or property. Due process requirements apply to both criminal and civil law.”
A Drone Strike is defined as a strike “A drone strike is typically where an unmanned combat aerial vehicle fires a missile at a target.”
Now that we’ve established our key terms,
Let’s talk quickly about what’s going on in the current system.
Innocent civilians murdered
From Dan De Luce and Paul Mccleary from Foreign policy on april 5, 2017, 5
“In March, U.S. drones and other warplanes bombed an al-Shabaab training camp in Somalianorth of Mogadishu,killing what the Pentagon later estimated were about 150 militants who had gathered for a graduation ceremony. And an air raid a few weeks later on an Islamic State training camp in the mountains of Yemen killed dozens of suspected militants, the Pentagon said. U.S. officials privately acknowledged that they didn’t know the precise identities of who they killed.” end quote.
Clearly, unlike the Obama administration claimed, we don’t know who we are killing. With that terrifying fact in mind, what exactly is the criteria of a drone strike? Unfortunately, the United States does not disclose the criteria of what constitutes as dangerous individual. However, ƒrom the information that can be gathered, this so-called “criteria” is sketchy at best.This leads us to…
b. Criteria is Dangerously Vague
According to Scott Shane writing for the New York Times in 2012, 6
“However, American officials familiar with the rules governing the strikes and who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that many missiles had been fired at groups of suspected militants who are not on any list.”
I’d like to stop us right here and just reinforce what has been said. These people that were shot at were not on any list. Once again, it was simply because the US thought there was a chance that they were militants that they shot at them.The article then goes on to say,“These so-called “drone strikes” are based on assessments that men carrying weapons or in a militant compound are legitimate targets.”
targeting anyone with a weapon is not a responsible policy in countries with high terrorist activity, such as Iraq. According to Bethan Owen in May 2014, in Iraq, "there are approximately 34 guns for every 100 people.”7
That means that each and every single one of those people can be considered “dangerous” in the eyes of the CIA and are eligible to be bombed by a drone strike.
Using drone strikes is clearly a counterproductive policy that violates human rights, murders innocent people, and ultimately, can create more terrorists than we’re killing.In order to remedy this pressing issue, we propose the following plan.
Mandate: End the use of all “drone strike” operations
Agency and Enforcement: Any government means necessary
Funding: none needed
Timeline: Immediately upon an affirmative ballot
Judge, there are millions of civilians who are at risk of being killed by a drone strike. At the end of the day, a policy to end signature drone strikes is not just a win for America, but a win for human rights across the globe. The current policy enacted by our government is killing innocent men, women, and children. It is immoral and unjust- my partner and I will not stand for this and it is high time to stop. Thank you and I now stand ready for cross examination.
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Drones kill fewer civilians, as a percentage of total fatalities, than any other military weapon. They’re the worst form of warfare in the history of the world, except for all the others.
Look at last year’stally of air missionsin Afghanistan. Drone strikes went way up. According to the U.N. report, drones released 212 more weapons over Afghanistan in 2012 than they did in 2011. Meanwhile, manned airstrikes went down. Result? Fifteen more civilians died in drone strikes, and 124 fewer died in manned aircraft operations. That’s a net saving of 109 lives.
Michael W. Lewis gives good reasoning for this:
Like any other weapons system, drones have caused civilian casualties. But they also have the potential to dramatically reduce civilian casualties in armed conflicts, and particularly in counterinsurgencies. Their ability to follow targets for days or weeks accomplishes two things that contribute to saving the lives of innocents: First, it confirms that the target is engaged in the behavior that put them on the target list, reducing the likelihood of striking someone based on faulty intelligence. Second, by establishing a "pattern of life" for the intended target, it allows operators to predict when the target will be sufficiently isolated to allow a strike that is unlikely to harm civilians.
Another, less obvious, feature that reduces civilian casualties is that drones are controlled remotely, so the decision to employ a weapon can be reviewed in real time by lawyers, intelligence analysts, and senior commanders without any concern (in most cases) that a hesitation to act may cost lives. Even more importantly, the operators themselves are not concerned for their own safety, eliminating the possibility that the combination of tension, an unexpected occurrence, and a concern for personal safety leads to weapons being fired when they shouldn't be.
How do we know that this has succeeded? Bowden mentions studies done by several independent organizations that have assessed civilian casualties caused by drones in Pakistan. The three most well respected and independent sources on this issue are the Long War Journal, the New America Foundation and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ). Among these, the U.K.-based TBIJ has consistently produced the highest estimates of civilian casualties for drone strikes. According to TBIJ, between January 2012 and July 2013, there were approximately 65 drone strikes in Pakistan, which they estimate to have killed a minimum of 308 people. Yet of these casualties, even TBIJ estimates that only 4 were civilians. This would amount to a civilian casualty rate of less than 1.5 percent, meaning that only 1 in 65 casualties caused by drones over that 19-month period was a civilian. This speaks to drones effective discrimination between civilian and military targets that no other weapons system can possibly match.
The drones have done their job remarkably well: by killing key leaders and denying terrorists sanctuaries in Pakistan, Yemen, and, to a lesser degree, Somalia, drones have devastated al Qaeda and associated anti-American militant groups. And they have done so at little financial cost, at no risk to U.S. forces, and with fewer civilian casualties than many alternative methods would have caused.
The Obama administration relies on drones for one simple reason: they work. According to data compiled by the New America Foundation, since Obama has been in the White House, U.S. drones have killed an estimated 3,300 al Qaeda, Taliban, and other jihadist operatives in Pakistan and Yemen. That number includes over 50 senior leaders of al Qaeda and the Taliban—top figures who are not easily replaced. In 2010, Osama bin Laden warned his chief aide, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, who was later killed by a drone strike in the Waziristan region of Pakistan in 2011, that when experienced leaders are eliminated, the result is “the rise of lower leaders who are not as experienced as the former leaders” and who are prone to errors and miscalculations. And drones also hurt terrorist organizations when they eliminate operatives who are lower down on the food chain but who boast special skills: passport forgers, bomb makers, recruiters, and fundraisers.
Drones have also undercut terrorists’ ability to communicate and to train new recruits. In order to avoid attracting drones, al Qaeda and Taliban operatives try to avoid using electronic devices or gathering in large numbers. A tip sheet found among jihadists in Mali advised militants to “maintain complete silence of all wireless contacts” and “avoid gathering in open areas.”
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