C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan – NYTimes.com
The use of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) in war has been one of the most controversial topics in the field of Roboethics. While the talk of sex robot still remains futuristic, military robotics is definitely considered to be today’s topic.
This year alone, I saw at least three new books published on this topic: (in order of publication date) Peter Singer’s Wired for War; Ronald Arkin’s Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots; and Armin Krishnan’s Killer Robots.
And it was great to read today’s New York Times article that covers this very topic. The article presents different statistics on the number of civilian/target killed in Pakistan by Predator drones, while bringing to light Pakistani attitude towards the use of drones.
Some key parts of the article are reproduced below, and you can access the original article here: C.I.A. to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan – NYTimes.com.
“One of Washington’s worst-kept secrets, the drone program is quietly hailed by counterterrorism officials as a resounding success, eliminating key terrorists and throwing their operations into disarray. But despite close cooperation from Pakistani intelligence, the program has generated public anger in Pakistan, and some counterinsurgency experts wonder whether it does more harm than good.”
“About 80 missile attacks from drones in less than two years have killed “more than 400” enemy fighters, the official said, offering a number lower than most estimates but in the same range. His account of collateral damage, however, was strikingly lower than many unofficial counts: “We believe the number of civilian casualties is just over 20, and those were people who were either at the side of major terrorists or were at facilities used by terrorists.”” [statistics given from anonymous US government official]
“Tom Parker, policy director for counterterrorism at Amnesty International, said he found the estimate “unlikely,” noting that reassessments of strikes in past wars had usually found civilian deaths undercounted. Mr. Parker said his group was uneasy about drone attacks anyway: “Anything that dehumanizes the process makes it easier to pull the trigger.””
“In the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, C.I.A. officials were not eager to embrace killing terrorists from afar with video-game controls … [b]ut officers grew comfortable with the
program as they checked off their hit list more than a dozen notorious figures…”
“Forty-four countries have unmanned aircraft for surveillance, Mr. Singer said. So far, only the United States and Israel have used the planes for strikes, but that number will grow.”
“Interestingly, residents of the tribal areas where the attacks actually occur, who bitterly resent the militants’ brutal rule, are far less critical of the drones, said Farhat Taj, an anthropologist with the Aryana Institute for Regional Research and Advocacy.”
“Pakistan’s public criticism of the drone attacks has muddied the legal status of the strikes, which United States officials say are justified as defensive measures against groups that have vowed to attack Americans. Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur for extrajudicial executions and a prominent critic of the program, has said it is impossible to judge whether the program violates international law without knowing whether Pakistan permits the incursions, how targets are selected and what is done to minimize civilian casualties.”
“The New America Foundation, a policy group in Washington, studied press reports and estimated that since 2006 at least 500 militants and 250 civilians had been killed in the drone strikes. A separate count, by The Long War Journal, found 885 militants’ deaths and 94 civilians’.” [different statistics from the US gov.]