Today, the NPR program “On Point” discussed the issue of the use of drones by the US to carry out attacks around the world. This subject is extremely relevant given the many countries throughout the Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East the CIA and the Federal military are using remotely piloted aircraft to spy on and kill people. Naturally enough, the Feds almost always claim that everyone they kill with their drones was an “insurgent” or “terrorist.” Days or weeks later we often find out that many of those killed were women, children and innocent by-standers. As well, there is the issue that these “insurgents/terrorists” are not tried in court and there is no declared state of war. The Feds just kill them based on their intelligence, which, of course, could be flawed or manipulated.
I called into the program today and was put on the air to voice my concerns. Specifically, I raised the issue of 1) the civilians deaths and how the CIA and military just write everyone off that they kill as “terrorists” or “insurgents” and how we later find out that many of these people were not what the Feds claimed and 2) the proliferation of low-level, undeclared US wars around the planet. I was on the radio about half way through with the show. Shortly after I called in with my concern, they brought on a Federal trainer of drone pilots. Naturally enough, he defended the Feds’ use of these killing machines and talked about the professionalism and skill of the pilots. He also said that he and his colleagues prefer the name “remotely piloted aircraft” for the drones, given the high-degree of control the pilots have over the machines. Of course, this sanitises the machines and makes them sound benign. Radio-controlled planes like the ones children play with are “remotely piloted aircraft” as well but they don’t wipe out villages of people.
The show also touched on the proliferation of these drones within the US, where they are increasingly used by the police and border control. The threat of the government spying on you has never been greater. Some of these drones are as small as insects and can fly into your back yard or hover in front of your windows. In many parts of the US, Big Brother really is watching you. And with the lethal potential of these machines and the militarisation of the police, the potential for all sorts of tyranny exists.
Here is the audio link (I am on about half an hour into the show)