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The Drone Debate Intensifying Worldwide

The debate over the US use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) is heating up in Washington and around the world as the drone attacks inside Pakistan continue.

On Saturday, two U.S. drone attacks killed 18 militants in Pakistan, according to the New York Times. And last night, a

According to a report in the Washington Times, Nonetheless, according to Wired, a new poll of the Pakistani tribal areas where most of the drones are dropping bombs suggests that the drone attacks in Pakistan could actually send the locals into Al Qaeda's arms. Only 16 percent of respondents to the new poll sponsored by the drone-watchers at the New America Foundation say that the drone strikes 'accurately target militants.' Three times that number say they 'largely kill civilians.'


Another troubling revelation about drones appears i In spite of the all this, drone attacks are on the rise and still have the support of the Obama Administration.

Arguably the most outspoken champion of the continued use of drones is CIA director Leon Panetta, who passionately defended this new American weapon in a recent discussion on ABC News. When reporter Jake Tapper asked Panetta whether he would give his personal assurance that everything the CIA is doing in Pakistan is compliant with US and international law, Panetta replied without hesitation, 'There's no question that we are abiding by international law and the law of war. We have a responsibility to defend this country and that's what we're doing. And anyone who suggests that somehow, you know, we're employing other tactics here that somehow violate international law are dead wrong."

But according to several surveys, polls, news reports and even Pakistani officials, drones are killing Afghan and Pakistan civilians in greater numbers than militants. According to a 2009 Brookings Institute study, for every militant killed by a drone attack, 10 or more civilians also died. To reduce casualties, the study concluded, "superb intelligence is necessary. Operators must know not only where the terrorists are, but also who is with them and who might be within the blast radius. This level of surveillance may often be lacking, and terrorists' deliberate use of children and other civilians as shields make civilian deaths even more likely."

In a piece on drones in Huffington Post, Bruce Fein writes, "Adherents of Taliban or Al Qaeda do not wear uniforms or other distinctive insignia. They do not carry membership cards or pay dues. They blend into civil society and are characteristically targeted there. President Obama has hidden the informant or communications sources he uses to distinguish civilians from militants."

Continuing, Fein goes historical when he suggests that British abuses of civilian populations during the Revolutionary War "awakened implacable American enmity. To expect Afghans or Pakistanis to act any differently in response to United States provocations is absurd."