News / USA

US Drone Strikes Under Scrutiny

US Drone Strikes Under Scrutinyi
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
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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs