10 Ways the Public Backlash Against Killer Drones Is Taking Off
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6. The specter of tens of thousands of drones here at home when the FAA opens up US airspace to drones by 2015 has spurred new left/right alliances. Liberal Democratic Senator Ron Wyden joined Tea Party’s Rand Paul during his filibuster. The first bipartisan national legislation was introduced by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., saying drones used by law enforcement must be focused exclusively on criminal wrongdoing and subject to judicial approval, and prohibiting the arming of drones. Similar left-right coalitions have formed at the local level. And speaking of strange bedfellows, NRA president David Keene joined The Nation’s legal affairs correspondent David Cole in an op-ed lambasting the administration for the cloak of secrecy that undermines the system of checks and balances.
7. While trying to get redress in the courts for the killing of American citizens by drones in Yemen, the ACLU has been stymied by the Orwellian US government refusal to even acknowledge that the drone program exists. But on March 15, in an important victory for transparency, the D.C. Court of Appeals rejected the CIA’s absurd claims that it “cannot confirm or deny” possessing information about the government’s use of drones for targeted killing, and sent the case back to a federal judge.
8. Most Democrats have been all too willing to let President Obama carry on with his lethal drones, but on March 11, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and seven colleagues issued a letter to President Obama calling on him to publicly disclose the legal basis for drone killings, echoing a call that emerged in the Senate during the John Brennan hearing. The letter also requested a report to Congress with details about limiting civilian casualties by signature drone strikes, compensating innocent victims, and restructuring the drone program “within the framework of international law.”
9.There have even been signs of discontent within the military. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had approved a ludicrous high-level military medal that honored military personnel far from the battlefield, like drone pilots, due to their “extraordinary direct impacts on combat operations.” Moreover, it ranked above the Bronze Star, a medal awarded to troops for heroic acts performed in combat. Following intense backlash from the military and veteran community, as well as a push from a group of bipartisan senators, new Defense Secretary Senator Chuck Hagel decided to review the criteria for this new “Distinguished Warfare” medal.
10. Remote-control warfare is bad enough, but what is being developed is warfare by “killer robots” that don’t even have a human in the loop. A campaign against fully autonomous warfare will be launched this April at the UK’s House of Commons by human rights organizations, Nobel laureates and academics, many of whom were involved in the successful campaign to ban landmines. The goal of the campaign is to ban killer robots before they are used in battle.
Throughout the US--and the world--people are beginning to wake up to the danger of spy and killer drones. Their actions are already having an impact in forcing the Administration to share memos with Congress, reduce the number of strikes and begin a process of taking drones out of the hands of the CIA.