Should we be using unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, to root out dangers to our national security? Proponents of drones argue that it helps make us safer by killing terrorists. Unfortunately, such claims are quite short-sighted, and using drones to kill suspects abroad is imprudent. Here’s why:
1. Drones are UNCONSTITUTIONAL
- According to the 5th Amendment, “no person shall be deprived of due process.” According to the 6th and 7th Amendments, we have the right of a speedy, public trial by jury before punishment. Furthermore, the government does not have the right to suspend the writ of habeus corpus, which means that they cannot detain you or deprive you of other rights (like life, liberty, and property) without a trial.
- During Bush’s reign, we used to violate this rule by detaining people without evidence at places like Guantanamo. Now, under Obama, we can simply kill people that we suspect. What progress…
- Already, 4 U.S. citizens have been killed, according to the Attorney General Eric Holder, one of them being a 16-year-old born in Colorado: Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. This was only a few months after a drone strike killed his father, Anwar, also a U.S. citizen. His father spread pro-Al Qaeda messages on the Internet, but there was no evidence that he was involved in terrorism.
- When Abdulrahman was killed, former Press Secretary of the White House said the attack was justified and that “the boy should have had a more responsible father.” Later, the White House said that the boy was simply collateral damage, and that they were targeting someone else.
Some people have argued that it’s OK to kill non-citizens if they are suspects because they don’t have citizens’ constitutional rights. Without formally declaring war, this is illegal according to the Constitution. We haven’t declared war with any of the 3 countries where drones have been used. Is that really the message we want to send to foreign nations, that others don’t deserve our basic rights?
2. Drones are INACCURATE
- According to http://drones.pitchinteractive.com, which has recorded every drone strike in Pakistan:
- Few high-profile targets have been killed. Out of 3115 people killed, only 47 (about 1.5%) were high-profile targets. 75.7% are classified as “other,” those who the administration refuses to release information about. The rest are children and civilians.
- This shouldn’t be surprising at all, since the criteria for determining targets is very loose. According to the “white paper” leaked from the White House, the criteria is essentially: Young, unemployed, Muslim male.
3. Drones are MORALLY WRONG
To target one group of people unlawfully in this manner, is callous and disgusting.
Drones also stay around for a second strike, and as a result, people aren’t able to help their friends and family who’ve been hit. They’re afraid of the second strike, and this results in more casualties, and more psychological damage. This is not war, this is not counterterrorism, this is plain and simple murder.
4. Drones make us INSECURE
Some may think #3 is unimportant in the world of realpolitik. But that’s not true. Our moral degradation has huge consequences. The reason bin Laden vowed hatred against the USA is clearly stated in his videos: He opposes the US “occupying the lands of Islam…the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers…and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.” He further cites “Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people” as a grievance. Our morality is important.
- For every few terrorists killed, more bin Ladens are created. Those who see their families die swear revenge. More resentment toward us means LESS security.
- Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni activist and American student, testified before the Senate that a drone strike in his village in Yemen terrorized the people there. He said, “Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the fear they feel at the drones over their heads…What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant.”
5. Don’t sacrifice LIBERTY FOR “SECURITY”
- Don’t listen to those who tell you that sacrificing liberties are necessary for security. For “security” one could simply ban all cars. Millions would be saved from accidents. They’re one of the biggest killers. But doing so would be absurd…I hope we all agree.
- Just like we have the right to own cars, we have the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Is your right to a car more important than a Muslim’s right to life? That’s the decision we have to make. Remember, until we grant others these rights, we cannot expect them to concede them to us.
So why else should you care? If the thought of scores of innocent people being killed by our elected officials doesn’t stir you, understand that this drains out millions of your taxpayer dollars. We’re spending billions on drone technology, on subsidies to private military contractors, and on the military-industrial complex. We can find money for this, but we can’t find money for food stamps. We can’t find money for education. We can’t find money for health care. Is this the kind of America we want? One that punishes both its own people and foreigners alike? Or should we stop this? It’s time we take responsibility for our own government’s actions; no one else can, no one else will, and thus, these murders are happening on our watch. If you’re not OK with that, raise your voices.