Top Pro & Con Arguments


Drone strikes terrorize and kill civilians.

A Pakistani man stated, “When [children] hear the drones, they get really scared, and they can hear them all the time so they’re always fearful that the drone is going to attack them. Because of the noise, we’re psychologically disturbed — women, men, and children… Twenty-four hours, [a] person is in stress and there is pain in his head.” [148] Yemeni tribal sheik Mullah Zabara said, “we consider the drones terrorism. The drones are flying day and night, frightening women and children, disturbing sleeping people. This is terrorism.” [49]

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, a human rights organization, stated, “an entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies. Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups.” [58]

According to Micah Zenko, PhD, political scientist, and Amelia May Wolf, research associate in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations, “drones are far less precise than airstrikes conducted by piloted aircraft, which themselves also conduct ‘precision strikes.’ Drones result in far more civilian fatalities per each bomb dropped.” [149]

President Obama’s policy of “signature strikes” allowed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to target anyone who fits a specific terrorist profile or engages in behavior the US government associates with terrorists, regardless of whether they have been conclusively identified as enemy combatants. [53] Classified documents leaked in Oct. 2015 showed that in one five-month period of drone strikes in Afghanistan, as many as 90% of those killed were not the intended targets, and that those unintended deaths were classified as “enemies killed in action” regardless of whether they were civilians or combatants. [120]

At the height of the drone program in Pakistan in 2009 and 2010, as many as half of the strikes were classified as signature strikes. [54] According to top-secret intelligence reports, drone operators are not always certain of who they are killing “despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence.” [55] The CIA and JSOC target “associated forces,” “foreign fighters,” “suspected extremists,” and “other militants,” but do not publicly reveal whether the people killed are actively involved in terrorism against the United States. [56] In two sets of classified documents obtained by NBC News, 26 of 114 drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan between Sep. 3, 2010 and Oct. 30, 2011, targeted “other militants,” meaning that the CIA could not conclusively determine the affiliation of those killed. [54]

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