Joe Burton: Self-defeating drones

July 3, 2014 

Regarding Eugene Robinson’s June 28 column: The problems with drone strikes against suspected terrorists around the world are not new. But maybe having a panel of military experts state them will add credibility and help our public understand the dangers. These include no clear definition for when the killing can stop and the likely spread of armed drone use by other countries. And there is no clear evidence that the drone program has contributed to our national security.

Robinson says the panel dismissed “disproportionate civilian casualties,” which is surprising given much evidence to the contrary. The Hellfire missiles used on Predator drones have a 15-20 meter blast radius with shrapnel projected beyond that. So any person near the target will be killed or injured. Also imagine the terror to civilians who know that drones are hovering overhead and can strike without warning a person who happens to be nearby or maybe visiting your home.

Hopefully, this report from military experts will convince current and future political leaders that extrajudicial killings with drones are self-defeating in addition to being illegal and unethical and prompt them to discontinue the practice.

Joe Burton, Raleigh

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