The CIA’s drone programme may be classified as covert, but it is increasingly in the public spotlight. On Thursday, John Brennan – Obama’s nominee for CIA director, and the driving force behind the White House’s drone strategy – will appear before the Senate. As Geoff Dyer points out, Brennan’s confirmation hearing will offer a rare moment of public scrutiny of the war on terror – and the ethics of targeted killings.
In the FT
- George W. Bush ordered about 50 drone strikes during his eight years in office. Obama has taken the approach to a new level, signing off on more than 350 strikes in at least six countries in his first term alone. Geoff Dyer’s analysis from October 2012 points out that the president’s “ventures in modern warfare” have been conducted “in almost complete secrecy, with little congressional oversight and almost no discussion with the public.”
- “The technology is not standing still. Down the road are insect-sized drones that could be mistaken for a housefly or spider, which could slip in under a door-sill to record conversations, take photos or even inject a lethal toxin into an unsuspecting victim,” wrote Francis Fukuyama. Meanwhile, military contractors have seen their sales boosted by growing drone use.
- Drones have “blurred the line between war and assassination”, argued Gideon Rachman in December. “Somebody suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on the soil of the US or the UK would be subject to arrest and prosecution. But if the suspects are in the tribal areas of Pakistan, they can simply be blown away.” Writing for this blog, Rachman also looked at the cost of American drone strikes in Pakistan.