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Blogosphere Buzzing About San Diego-Made Drones

The blogosphere is absolutely buzzing about drones, the unmanned aerial vehicles I wrote about yesterday that are manufactured in San Diego. Drones, specifically the Predator and Reaper drones built by General Atomics in Poway, are being used in increasing numbers in covert bombings in Pakistan. Over the past few weeks, the CIA has drastically increased the bombing campaign in the mountains along the Afghan border. This is being carried out as part of a plan to cripple the Taliban in its stronghold. The number of causalities among American troops has been increasing. In addition, there is a general level of frustration as not all parties involved in the conflict share the same stance on dealing with militants. But none of these factors justify the high civilian death toll. As a matter of fact, it is indicative of a major flaw in the current policy.

Counterpunch - Drones, in allowing unprecedented levels of visual accuracy should also significantly raise the burden of responsibility on their operators for their actions; the problem is this hasn't happened. Civilian casualties continue to mount at unacceptable levels and legal and political accountability has not kept pace. If the drone system is so accurate why are so many civilians being eviscerated, almost daily by drone missiles in Pakistan? What does it tell us about our political and military leadership when they can go on a popular news hour and boast of only a 32 percent civilian casualty rate? - Although the numbers might point out 'accuracy' on part of the predator drones, there have still been civilian casualties, casualties that might fuel further anger and resentment among the future generation. Just in August 2010, a drone attack in Miramsha claimed the lives 12 people including four women. The Obama administration has up the ante in Afghanistan in order to prove its presence in the region to US taxpayers and lawmakers, but it remains to be seen how effective this strategy will be. - According to the New York Times, the number of missile strikes by pilotless drone aircraft has been doubled, with at least 21 having been conducted so far this month. The Obama administration has come to rely heavily on this cowardly form of warfare. Since coming to office in January 2009, it has quadrupled the number of strikes that were carried out during the last year of the Bush administration. According to Pakistani authorities, 708 people were killed in 51 drone strikes in 2009, and another 600 or more have died in the 75 such strikes carried out so far this year. This adds up to more than 1,300 slaughtered since Obama entered the White House. The overwhelming majority of the victims'referred to vaguely by officials and the media as "suspected militants"'are civilians, including women and children.