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The underexposed drone program

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By Carla Roman
Assistant Opinions Editor
opinions.asp@gmail.com
 
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On Wednesday Mar. 6, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) spent his whole day arguing the drone program and war. In a 13-hour filibuster, delaying the con­firmation of President Obama’s appointee for CIA Director, John Brennan. Sen. Paul demanded answers and clarity on the drone program history and raised alarm on the potential violation of Americans constitutional rights through the drone program.After Sen. Paul’s filibuster, it’s pretty clear that it’s not only civilians that have been left out of the loop on the whole drone pro­gram, and that, ac­cording to Sen. Paul is just unacceptable.

Sen. Paul raised key questions and concerns that set the ground for the risks we as civilians face unknowingly through the drone program that comes with its own kill list, which can even include U.S citizens.

Yet, what’s most alarming is that most Americans don’t know that our governments been killing ‘terrorists’ with drones, and some don’t even what drones are. Drones, which are unmanned aerial vehicles, are either pre-programmed for a specific launch/mission or are controlled from a “pilot” back on the ground, sometimes thousands of miles away.

If thought of in simpler terms, drones are basically video game control brought to life. In a video game you control the movement of your gun, plane, person or object in an alternate world from behind a screen. Drones of­fer the “pilots” the same type of power.

The “pilots’’ remain behind a com­puter screen navigating a plane to fly to whatever place for whatever mission or kill.

The scary part comes there. The idea that there’s machinery that can be con­trolled from somewhere in Kansas (as an example) and can be navigated to at­tack someone in Iran (as an example) is truly unsettling. Yet, the ethical issue of drones, its controversy and use has been left hush-hush for quite some time.

Ten years ago marked the killing of an Al-Qaeda leader and five of his associ­ates in Yemen. This killing was the first official kill done by a U.S. drone. Since then according to the Washington Post there have been over 400-targeted kill­ings in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Yet, what is interesting to note is that there have been more recorded drone killings during the Obama administra­tion than the Bush administration, while the “War on Terror” was in its full effect.

It’s estimated that the drone killings and attacks are four times greater now during the Obama administration than they were under the Bush administra­tion. So why hasn’t this issue been brought up during debates, campaigning or Presidential speeches?

It can be assumed that the issue is too taboo to be fully open about. But Obama’s administration has increased its drone usage and even admitted in a recent memo which resulted in Sen. Paul’s filibuster against drones, that drones could be used to target any civil­ian’s thought of treason including U.S civilians.

The problem here is that under the Constitution all U.S citizens have the right to fair trial under law and with drones that right is being denied. If you are leaked as a threat to the CIA and the Obama administration you could be put on this mysterious kill list and just be killed with no warning.

Before everyone starts making their conclusions on whether drones should stay or go the government really needs to become more transparent. The drone project should have a set framework, rules, laws and boundaries. Sen. Paul’s questioning of the drone program is without question reasonable.

You must realize part of what Paul is arguing is that the Obama adminis­tration has been expanding the drone program and its associated kill list since his presidency began, yet it’s been done with no consultation or approval from the any other branch of our government.

If our country is truly a democracy the Obama administration has to play by the rules. Part of that begins with un­veiling the full use of the drones, their kill list and what it means for allies of the United States and citizens.

The last thing anyone wants to see or worry about is the Obama adminis­tration poten­tially dictating its own military moves and targets. If that were to hap­pen our country would go from a fairly decent democracy to a potentially neo-imperialistic government.

The drone program is complex to discuss and argue since it has a lot of loopholes and information behind it that we as citizens don’t even know about. Yet, we must also become more aware of what our president and representatives are trying to do behind our backs.

Part of that is abusing their power without citizens knowing. The drones do have its pros though.

For example, surveillance drones have been sent out from the U.S to Niger in order to assist Niger’s battle against Islam militants.

But personally, until Obama himself addresses the drone issue in a speech or public memo, the drone program is still troublesome. Especially since it wasn’t part of his presidential agenda when he got reelected.

Obama as a democratic figure should put forward to his citizens what his military projects are since, after-all, we all suffer and are represented each time those drones strike in another foreign country.

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