Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a sixteen-years-old boy, was a third American killed by CIA drone strikes in Yemen while searching for his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, who had been killed in a U.S. drone strike (Finn and Browning). Although drones kill not only terrorists but also innocent civilians including children like Abdulrahman, many drone strikes have been made to Pakistan between the year of 2004 and 2012. This is because the United States military successfully kills targeted enemies without losing a soldier by using drones. However, civilians living near the targeted area are killed by the drones as killer drones can’t accurately focus on the enemies. Therefore, the military’s use of drones for targeted killing is immoral although drones are useful for other purposes. THE PURPOSES OF USING DRONES
As drone technology is evolved, different types of drones are available to be used in the military and homeland security. Police officers use drones for surveillance and law enforcement purposes. For example, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are used as surveillance units for drug trafficking activities along U.S.-Mexico border. Moreover, Dragon Flyer X6, a tiny UAV equipped with wireless cameras and variety of sensors, is used by the police officers in Canada to collect evidence and survey crime scenes (Lee). As the drones are not armed, the drones can kill neither criminals nor civilians. Similarly, the military also use drones in combat, invasion and surveillance. Drones are used for tasks which are dangerous for a soldier to perform.
Different types of drones are used for different purposes in the military. For instance, “The MQ-1B predator (formerly called the RQ-1 predator) was originally designed as an aircraft for intelligence-gathering, surveillance and identifying target and reconnaissance” (“Drones: What are”). Therefore, the predator drones are useful for locating enemy’s bases and spying the enemy’s activities at the base. Before the evolution of drones, the government sent a human spy to collect the information of terrorists to the enemies’ camp. If the terrorists found out the spy, the spy was killed or tortured to dead.
Now, the government eliminates the risk by replacing the human spy with the drone. Moreover, MQ-9 Reapers armed with “Hellfire missiles and laser guided bomb such as Paveway II and GBU-12” are designed for targeted killing (“Drones: What are”). Thus, human assassins can be replaced by the Reaper drones so that the assassins will not be killed by the enemies. In fact, both Predator and Reaper drones are currently used in Afghanistan and Pakistan according to the report by BBC news (). Although the government can eliminate the terrorists without losing any soldiers by using the drones, the killer drones accidentally kill civilians while trying to eliminate the targeted victims. When drones kill many innocent people and children whenever the drones try to eliminate enemies, the use of drones for targeted killing become immoral. In addition, K-MAX pilotless helicopters are designed to transport the items and supplies for the military base located at the places where “frequent roadside bombs threaten access by road convoy” (“Unmanned helicopters ferry”).
Thus, the number of roadside-bomb casualties can be reduced by using the pilotless helicopters instead of convoys to transport the supply to the base. In fact, Maj. Kyle O’Conner, the officer in charge of detachment, said that the drones have transported almost 18 tons of cargo, such as ready-made foods and items needed for operating bases, for “20 transport missions since the inaugural flight on December 17” (“Unmanned helicopters ferry”). Commonly, drones used for the military are armed although some of them are designed for surveillance or transportation. They are controlled from a command center in the military base through satellite. “The base may be local to the combat zone or thousands of miles away—many of the drone missions in Afghanistan are controlled from Creech Air Force base in Nevada, USA—although take-off and landing are always handled locally” (“Drones: What are”). Furthermore, when drones are used for targeted killing, they have the common issues—killing many innocent people together with terrorists. DRONES: GOOD & BAD
As drone technology is advanced, the role of using drones is expanded from the military to homeland security. As a result, advantages and disadvantages of using drones for the homeland security are revealed. In this case, when drones are unarmed and used for local law enforcement purposes, such as “search-and rescue mission, to monitor traffic and even with crowd control”, they become useful tools (Kouri). “Last week, a Predator B drone deployed from a North Dakota Air Force base provided surveillance that eventually helped local police arrest three man charged with stealing six cows from a local family” (Lee). This evidence proves that the drones can be used by police officers to track criminals. However, the use of drones for a surveillance purpose invade privacy of civilians especially when the drones are used as an investigative tool by the police officers. Thus, people in United States concern about the use of drones for investigative purposes. According to the CBS news, 35 percent of civilians answered “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” while 36 percent said “not too concerned” or “not concerned at all” when they were asked if they concerned about their privacy being invaded by the drones.
There are also 24 percent of people who fell in the middle—“somewhat concern” .This is because drones used for the purposes are equipped with powerful cameras, such as infrared cameras, which can see through walls. Moreover, listening devices and other technology which can collect data for an investigation will be used by the drones (“More than a third”). When they are used to record the daily activities of ordinary civilians by the officers, the drones “legally” invade the privacy of civilians. In addition, there are 350 drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and 2012 according to the drone-strike survey chart by the Bureau (Bureau). The chart shows the increase in drone strikes with the years, which mean that the government increasingly uses the drones to attack the enemies. As the drone strikes increases, benefits and drawbacks of using drones for military is revealed. In fact, the use of drones is increased when Obama become the president of the United States.
The Bureau reported that “Although drones attacks were started under Bush administration 2004, they have been stepped up enormously under Obama” (Woods and Lamb). This is because the government successfully eliminates the targeted enemies by using drones without sending any soldiers to enemy camps. The LONG WAR journal reported that the United States drone strikes in Yemen killed terrorists who threatened the United States. On May 6, the drone strike killed Fahd al Quso, an AQAP’s external operation chief, who was participated in various terrorist attacks, such as “the 2000 suicide attack on the USS core that killed 17 US sailors”. An April 22 drone strike also killed Mohammed Saeed al Umda who took part in “October 2002 suicide attack on the French oil tanker Limburg”. Moreover, the drones killed Abdul Mun’im Salim al Fatahani who “was involved in the suicide attack on the USS Cole, as well as the bombing that damaged the Limburg oil tanker in 2002” (Roggio). The evidence shows that the drones can take the role of assassins in the military for targeted killing purpose. As a result, the government saves money for the cost of hiring elite assassins to eliminate the enemies. However, the use of drones for targeted killing is immoral when the drones mistakenly kill civilians because of its inaccuracy in targeting real victims.
The PBS news reports that the FAA put a strict regulation over UAVs in the national airspace as the current UAV models do not have “adequate ‘detect, sense and avoid’ technology” to prevent collision with other aircraft (Lee). If drones have the inadequate technology, they will also have poor accuracy in focusing a subject on the ground. As a result, they have a high chance of mistakenly kill civilians together with the enemies. Consequently, the use of drones for targeted killing becomes an important issue when the numbers of civilians killed by the drones are reported by news media. “But research by the Bureau has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children” (Woods and Lamb). In fact, even though civilians get killed by drones, the use of drones is continued to expand by the government. “Frontlines reports that since September 11,2001, the number of drones in the U.S.’s military arsenal has expanded from 60 to more than 6,000, with president Obama making unprecedented use of these robotic warriors ” (Lee). As a result, more innocent people are accidently killed by the drones.
“The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that missiles fired by the drones have led to 825 deaths, with a large percentage of those killed being civilians who perished because they were mistakenly targeted or because of the shower of shrapnel from the strikes themselves” (Benjamin 292). Consequently, the news for civilian who are killed by the drones become popular on Medias. The drones’ attack on a Wazir tribal Jirga is one of the issues for targeted killing. The attack took place on March 17, 2011, and the drones killed 40 members of a Wizar tribal Jirga (Akbar). Although CNN reported that 40 members lost their lives, THE NEWS reported that 55 members were killed in the attack. THE NEWS also reported that the drones attacked the members while the elder of Kazha Madakhel Wazir made a meeting “to resolve a minor dispute over owner ship of minerals, including chromite and limestone in the mountains of the area and were negotiating to ensure equal distribution of the resources” (Khan and Yusufzai). Thus, the news confirm that the tribe is gathered for resolving the resource issue but not for doing activities which threaten the United States. In this case, the drones were actually targeting a car but not the members of Jirga according to CNN news. However, the drones mistakenly shot to the meeting place.
Thus, innocent members of Jirga died because the drones mistakenly opened fire at the place. As non-terrorist people are killed by the drones during the attack, the drones attack on Jirga become one of the issues for targeted killing. Moreover, drone strike in North Warzirestan on May 16 2009 killed not only terrorists but also civilians. Mushtaq Yusafzi, a local journalist, said that the drones attacked Taliban militants who were planning to launch an attack on US forces while the militants trying to enter into Afghanistan. However, drones also shot the villagers who came to help the injured militants after the first drone attack. As a result, the Bureau stated that “At least 29 people died in total” (Woods and Lamb). In this case, villagers are not accidentally killed by drones. Drones killed the villagers because the drones mistakenly classified the villagers as enemies. Thus, drones also lost the ability to distinguish between terrorists and civilians in the battle field. Therefore, the use of drones for targeted killing is immoral because of drones’ inaccuracy in targeting enemies. As a result, drones need war rules to solve the targeted killing issues. WAR RULES FOR DRONES
Although the use of drones is expanded, the war rules for the drones are not written to be passed by the congress. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) which is passed by the Congress after 9/11 attack helps the government “to “use all necessary and appropriate force” to pursue those responsible for the terrorist attacks” (Benjamin 301). Thus, the government can legally use the drones to eliminate terrorists by using the 2001 Authorization. However, the 2001 Authorization is not a war rule for the drone as the bill just allow the government to exercise the power. Moreover, the act of using drones for targeted killing violates the International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The law states that a crime exists if an attack is intentionally directed against civilians or the number of civilian who are unintentionally injured by the military attack exceed the expected military advantage during the war (Benjamin 341). The drones have the high chance to mistakenly kill innocent civilians whenever the drones carry out missions to assassinate terrorists.
The statistics from Medias prove that drones accidentally kill civilians while trying to assassinate the targeted enemy. London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) report that “drone strikes have killed 2570 to 3370 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 to 884 were civilians – including 176 children” between June 2004 to September 2012(Akbar). It is obvious to see that the number of civilians and children deaths is excessive. Thus, the drones violate IHR. In addition, the use of drones for targeted killing also violate the International Human Right Law (IHRL). The law allow lethal force be used “if the individual poses the imminent threat to law enforcement officers attempting to arrest or to other individuals”. The law also require to give an opportunity to surrender to terrorists before the lethal force is used (Lewis 300). As drones are armed with technology to gather information and kill enemies, they do not have the ability to capture or ask for surrender to the enemies. Thus, the drones kill the terrorists without giving chance to surrender; the drones brake the law.
As a result, the use of drones for targeted killing become illegal although the governments have the power to exercise it. Therefore, the Congress should create the new war rules for the drones. The war rules should prevent innocent civilians and children from being accidentally killed by the drones. If not, the civilians and children are legally killed by the drones. Moreover, the rule should protect privacy of civilian from being legally recorded by the government. The rule also should follow the international laws, such as IHL and IHRL. DRONES FOR MILITARY
Therefore, although the military should not use killer drones for war or invasion until drones’ accuracy in finding targets is improved or until drones’ war rules are established, the use of drone for other purposes should be expanded. Drones are used by police officers and the military. In this case, the military gains less benefits from using drones than the police officers do. This is because the military missions are more complicated than that of the officers. For example, the officers use the drones to find thieves while the military use the drones not only to search for terrorists but also to assassinate the terrorists. Thus, drones need more intelligence to accurately carry out the missions for the military. However, drones have poor accuracy in targeting enemies. As a result, civilians and children like the members of Wizar tribal Jarga and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki are killed together with the enemies. Moreover, the military’s drones do not have other abilities beside from surveillance and targeted killing. If the drones had equipped with the ability to capture the enemies, the terrorists, such as Quso, Umda and Fatahani, would have been arrested by the military.
Therefore, the use of drones for targeted killing is immoral and break the laws, such as IHL and IHRL, although the government can save the troops by using drones for the killing, and exercise the power to legally use drones for the killing under the AUMF bill. On the other hand, the drones are useful for surveillance purpose. Because of the drones, the places of the enemies’ camps are located without losing any soldiers. As a result, the government save expanses for the military troops. Moreover, the drones can be used to detect the roadside bombs. In addition, police officers gain benefits from using drones for surveillance. For example, police officers can use drones to track criminals, such as murders, kidnappers, burglars and thieves. If drones is given the ability to capture the criminals, the drones will be more useful for the police officers. Therefore, drones is useful for police officers and the military if it is not used for the targeted killing. The drone will be useful for the targeted killing if the accuracy in targeting the enemies is improved or the war rule for drones is passed by the congress. Thus, the drones should not be used for targeted killing until the war rules are passed or the accuracy of the drones is good enough for targeted killing.