America is asking all the wrong questions about drones

Jack L. Amoureux writes: Whether or not drones should be employed in the United States is the wrong question. Americans should be asking, “Is it ethical to use drones anywhere?”

Recently, concerns about how the U.S. government manages and deploys its fleet of around 7,000 drones have become especially prominent. Just last year President Obama, under mounting pressure, acknowledged the systematic use of drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere after a U.S. citizen was killed by a drone strike in Yemen.

Senate hearings on whether to confirm a key architect of the drone program, John Brennan, as director of the CIA underscore the increasingly urgent questions being asked of the administration. As part of the confirmation process, several senators insisted that the president share secret memoranda about drones, and Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., mounted a 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor over the administration’s refusal to rule out the possibility of a drone strike against a U.S. citizen on domestic soil.

But drones have become a hot button issue for a surprisingly diverse set of political actors only as armed drones flying over our heads have become more of a reality. Opposition has coalesced around the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens and a call for greater transparency and regulation of domestic drones. There is, however, a worrisome void in this debate about U.S. drone policy and practice — the lack of focus on the ethics of drones, whether used domestically or abroad. This neglect puts the United States out of step with the debates that are happening in the areas of the world most affected by drones. [Continue reading…]

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