News / USA

US Drone Strikes Under Scrutiny

US Drone Strikes Under Scrutinyi
X
April 09, 2013 9:13 PM
The use of unmanned drones by the United States to strike terror targets is coming under increasing scrutiny, both in America and abroad. Those in favor say drones have been highly effective in targeting terrorists, but critics suggest they could violate international law. From London, Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.

US Drone Strikes Under Scrutiny

TEXT SIZE - +
Henry Ridgwell
— The United States' use of unmanned drones to strike terrorists is coming under increasing scrutiny. Those in favor say the drone strikes have been highly effective, but critics suggest they could violate international law. The New York Times claimed Sunday it had uncovered a secret deal between the U.S. and Pakistan over the use of drones in Pakistani airspace.

Unmanned drones are being used with increasing frequency in fighting terrorist groups like al-Qaida.

A recent analysis by the New America Foundation estimated drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen since 2004 have killed up to 3,238 militants and as many as 368 civilians.

Professor Christopher Coker of the London School of Economics is author of Warrior Geeks: How 21st Century Technology Is Changing The Way We Fight And Think About War.

“There are six American bases - four in the United States, one in Germany and one in South Korea - and that’s where most of the drone strikes are launched from. And they have chaplains and psychologists now in the room monitoring; they have machines monitoring stress levels, also monitoring concentration levels," said Coker. "And there is, of course, a chain of command. So you [the pilots] spend about eight hours looking at the screen day after day and occasionally you get the command to actually fire.”

The New York Times newspaper alleged Sunday that Pakistan is allowing U.S. drones in its airspace in return for targeted killings of Pakistan’s enemies by the drones. The Pakistani government strongly denied the allegations; the U.S. government did not comment.

The drone strikes have prompted street protests in Pakistan. Arif Niazi is a lawyer in Islamabad.

"These ongoing attacks are blatant aggression, an intrusion into my country and a violation of its sovereignty," said Niazi.

Marco Roscini, an expert on international law at the University of Westminster, says the legality of current drone strikes is murky.

“There is a huge need for clarification and there’s a huge need for transparency," said Roscini. "You know that most of the strikes are now allegedly carried out by the CIA and their covert operations. So we don’t know why, who or when an individual is put on the targeted list.”

The decision on whom to target is a key distinction between CIA drone strikes and the military, says Professor Christopher Coker of the London School of Economics.

“The military can only actually take out someone if they know 100 percent that it’s a bad guy," he said. "The CIA will take you out on the basis that your behavior leads them to suspect that you may be a bad guy.”

Supporters of drone strikes point to the killing of numerous high-profile targets - such as last year's strike in Pakistan that killed the then number two in al-Qaida, Abu Yahya al-Libi.

At his nomination hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February, CIA Director John Brennan was questioned about the use of drones to kill U.S. citizens suspected of joining terror groups.

“I think any Americans who did that, should know well, that they are in fact part of an enemy against us, and the United States will do everything possible to destroy that enemy to save American lives," said Brennan.

With most NATO ground forces withdrawing from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, analysts says drones could play a bigger role in the West’s fight against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anthony alaban from: nsw australia
April 09, 2013 8:37 PM
2004 have killed up to 3,238 militants and as many as 368 civilians.
i think these figures are actually the wrong way around with civillian deaths a lot more then the militants.Its only america saying those killed were militants ,how would they know who their killing many times they have been proved wrong once the sun rises and then they say the militants were using the civillians as shields,yeah sure they were,remember the journ,s killed due to they looked like they were carrying weapons not cameras.
When will the coalition off the willing become accountable for all the atrocities in the middle east .Obama is like the Bush clan but using drones instead to save american soldiers lives but no other lives,he will go down in history as a killing president that loves war and lies .Look out n korea your next.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid