The drone warfare program has officially come out of the shadows

The drone warfare program has officially come out of the shadows

After NBC news obtained a memo outlining some of the legal justifications for killing American citizens abroad with drones, the White House has given in to pressure from Congress and turned over the DOJ’s classified legal justification for the drone warfare program. This release comes just before the architect of the drone program, John Brennan, faces off with the Senate Judiciary Committee today in his confirmation hearing to head up the CIA.

Several hundred drone strikes have been launched against targets all over the Middle East, Asia, and Africa killing thousands of people including so-called terrorists and innocent civilians. Three Americans citizens have also been killed in targeted drone strikes – raising questions about due process and the president’s war powers. Today, our Senators should grill John Brennan about the legality and necessity of this drone warfare program, because, when former Bush adviser John Bolton praises the drone program as a “consistent” extension of the Bush policies, then you know something is terribly wrong.

This isn’t about drones – it’s about our relationship with the rest of the world. The long-term effects of drone warfare are not fully understood – and tragically – they may not be understood until years down the road when the blowback occurs.


ckrob's picture
Consider that Chen Guangcheng

Consider that Chen Guangcheng is considered a danger to the Chinese Communist government and that they could decide to off him on U.S. soil. Nothing fancy like a drone just an apparent mugging gone wrong. Would the U.S. go along with the cover story and allow open season on everyone everywhere who offends any government no matter how despotic?

WOW! I sure feel safer.

mathboy's picture
You're right, Thom. It's not

You're right, Thom. It's not about drones. If we didn't have drone technology, we'd just be endangering our pilots to do the same missions up close. Drone warfare is safer for us, and probably a little safer for the people near the targets, because pilots don't have to make the call alone anymore, the drone operators are in a room where they can take advantage of others' expertise and judgement.

mathboy's picture
The best case I can make for

The best case I can make for drone strikes against people by name is to invoke Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

To defend these strikes, you must claim that the targets are either rebels or invaders. Rebellion applies to citizens of the United States, and Invasion applies to non-citizens. On the invasion side, I think we'd have to require that they actually entered U.S. territory without permission of the U.S. government.

artannex's picture
 I imagine every undercover

 I imagine every undercover operative we have in the world is considering new employment. The idea is that they are working UNDER COVER and their job is to be friendly and associate with terrorists, now they can be killed if they are discovered by the terrorists or unrecognized by their own country. This will surely be a comfort to all involved!!! Perhaps Johm McCain can release their names to the media so will not happen? This would all be goofy, if it weren't so damn serious.

hartmann wrote:This isn’t

hartmann wrote:
This isn’t about drones – it’s about our relationship with the rest of the world. The long-term effects of drone warfare are not fully understood – and tragically – they may not be understood until years down the road when the blowback occurs.

That's for sure! But, of course, it wasn't about winning hearts and minds to begin was about creating new enemies that Americans are supposed to be very afraid of so that the MIC parasites can continue to oppress us and steal the rest of the money we have to survive on.

I also think there will be many more people who flip out like Dorner did. You should read his manifesto.

Dorner's censored manifesto: (for some reason someone saw fit to remove the names of those in the LAPD but it was quite alright to post all those other names).

If you want to know some of the names that were blanked out (like who was "Chupacabra lady" and a little background:

Artannex: Like Lee Harvey

Artannex: Like Lee Harvey Oswald was set up and so was Osama bin Laden both CIA operatives that got used as patsies.

Mark Saulys
Mark Saulys's picture
     This is from the other

     This is from the other night but it fits here amd nobody saw the other one so I repeat it.  Denial of due processs because the crime the accused is suspected of is just "too terrible" misses the purpose of due process.  It is not a hollow ritual without substantive purpose. 

     What people forget is that the reason for constitutional rights to due proccess of law is to protect the INNOCENT from wrongful conviction and wrongful punishment.  They are not to shield people who are guilty of terrorism and other crimes from the consequences of their actions.

     For this reason it doesn't matter if someone is a citizen or not; the entitlement to those rights is inalienable from anyone anywhere the U.S. government has jurisdiction.  It is not less important that foreigners or non citizens not be wrongly convicted or punished than that U.S.citizens are not. 

     The recent differentiation in this entitlement to these basic human rights introduced into our lexicon - and subsequently our law - by the Right is a successful attempt to induce the American public to adopt an imperialist, colonial mentality, a racism and nationalistic chauvinism that demarcates different relative values of human beings and their lives contingent upon their citizenship of the United States. 

     This mentality is necessary for the public to accept imperial militarism for which the war on terror is a pretext - just as the cold war - on communism - was and the war on drugs was - when we wanted to invade Panama and dispense with constitutional rights as we did in the McCarthy Era and as we are now - so we can be outraged about human rights abuses of foreign dictators as long as they are atop of large oil reserves. 



Mark Saulys
Mark Saulys's picture
       Furthermore, terrorism

       Furthermore, terrorism is not appropriately a military issue but a security issue.  The 9/11 hijackers attacked us not with artillery, not with squadrons of bombers, not with a ground invasion but with box cutters.  The military response to an attack by a small group of men with small knives and the making of terrorism into a military rather than a security issue was primarily because the defense contractors opportunized upon it and soon they were producing costly nuclear submarines, and such, ostentsibly to combat people with  box cutters.  

        The War on Terror is the "war without end" because it can have no end.  It is not a war against any organized entity of people but against a method of fighting.  Since it will always be possible to kill innocent civillians for political purposes the war can never be conclusively won.  To say we can have no constitutional rights because someone will always be able to kill innocent civillians, whether for a political or other purpose, is, naturally, illogical.

Mark Saulys wrote:This

Mark Saulys wrote:
This mentality is necessary for the public to accept imperial militarism for which the war on terror is a pretext - just as the cold war - on communism - was and the war on drugs was - when we wanted to invade Panama and dispense with constitutional rights as we did in the McCarthy Era and as we are now - so we can be outraged about human rights abuses of foreign dictators as long as they are atop of large oil reserves.

Yes, it is always so blatantly obvious to some of us. But the sheeple always fall for the propaganda and so we keep sending in our sons and daughters as canon fodder to keep the wheels of imperial militarism and hegemonic exploitation well oiled.

Mark Saulys: Sounds logical

Mark Saulys: Sounds logical to me except for the box cutters...that doesn't sound logical at all.

RaleighMom's picture
The problem with the drone

The problem with the drone program is the same problem we have with private military contractors:  there is inadequate regulatory structure.

Cockayne, James, and Emily Speers Mears , “Private Military and Security Companies: A Framework for Regulation,” International Peace Institute, March 2009, Current national and international regulation of security companies is flawed.

There is also a problem with a "revolving door" which is in effect creating a shadow govenment that is not accountable to the American people or the Supreme Court or Congress (because Congress will not investigate them.)

Bender, Brian , “From the Pentagon to the Private Sector,” Boston Globe, Dec. 26, 2010, As more military officers join private security companies after retiring, questions arise about whether the prospect of lucrative employment sways Pentagon decision-making.


RaleighMom's picture
Here's an article that you

Here's an article that you might enjoy.

“Rise in Mercenary Activities Warrants Urgent Attention, Says UN Expert Group,” UN News Centre, UN News Service, Nov. 1, 2011,<. The U.N. working group on mercenaries says contractors are helping governments subvert peaceful protest.

Another important article:

Gomez del Prado, Jose L. , “Why Private Military and Security Companies Should Be Regulated,” September 2010, A member of the United Nations working group on mercenaries argues for strong oversight of security companies.

Liptak, Adam , “State Secrets Block Resolution of Contractor's Suit, Justices Say,” The New York Times, May 24, 2011, The Supreme Court ruled it could not resolve a multibillion-dollar dispute between the government and military contractors.


When a law enforcement

When a law enforcement officer in this country responds to a threat, they are sometimes required to immediately transition to deadly force. They could try to make an arrest and get the detainee into the criminal justice system, but it is grossly incorrect and profoundly naive to think it must be tried first. There are situations that arise every single day that prove too dangerous for a cop to make an arrest - the Alabama abduction and FBI response being the most recent.

Why would it be any different for foreign operations? The US persons targeted in these drone strikes are only so targeted because of two reasons: first, we have no law enforcement authority in foreign lands typically, so an arrest would be legally prevented. Second, by definition, the strike is the selected response because any attempt to make an arrest, even if legal, is just too damn dangerous for those who would be taking the direct action.

Most significantly, these US persons have proven to be a hideous threat to the US, whether by deeds or words. If we could arrest them and put them in front of a judge and jury, that would be ideal. But their seditious and murderous orations go beyond First Amendment rights, and jump squarely into that realm of shouting Fire in a movie theater. Is it so beyond comprehension that the drone strikes might actually be the proper response?

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Pjhamilton says "...these US

Pjhamilton says "...these US persons have proven to be a hideous threat to the US, whether by deeds or words. If we could arrest them and put them in front of a judge and jury, that would be ideal. But their seditious and murderous orations go beyond First Amendment rights, and jump squarely into that realm of shouting Fire in a movie theater. Is it so beyond comprehension that the drone strikes might actually be the proper response?"

Absolutely beyond comprehension, and reason.  As Louise Hartmann pointed out yesterday, there needn't be any evidence these targeted individuals pose an eminent threat to us.  One U.S. citizen recently murdered abroad by drone attack was a sixteen year old kid, massacred just two weeks after his father met the same fate.  It is amoral and disgusting beyond comprehension.  Gives me serious doubts about this country and what it really stands for.

I agree with Palindromedary's assertion that the war mongers are deliberately creating enemies for us, to keep us scared and submissive to the Military Industrial Complex and to justify perpetual war.  Let's not forget that war is BIG BUSINESS!  People are getting rich off it, at our expense.  And if more of us don't wake up, it will continue getting more out of control until no one is safe, here or elsewhere.  Doesn't get any more hideous than that.  - Aliceinwonderland

U.S. Citizen
U.S. Citizen's picture
It's also about the

It's also about the continuing accretion of executive power.  In some ways, we are electing a dictator.

2950-10K's picture
The impoverished Pakistani

The impoverished Pakistani mother feels the same pain and heartbreak for her dead child as the Sandy Hook mothers suffer for theirs. The only difference is that the Sandy Hook mothers know it was a mentally ill young man that killed their children..... the Pakistani mother must think it was a mentally ill nation that killed her child. I agree, it is about our relationship with the rest of the world.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Mathboy says "Drone warfare

Mathboy says "Drone warfare is safer for us, and probably a little safer for the people near the targets, because pilots don't have to make the call alone anymore, the drone operators are in a room where they can take advantage of others' expertise and judgement."

Drone warfare is a cowardly act of terrorism.  Safer for the people near the targets?!  Gimmie a break.  Thousands of innocents have been killed by these murderous hacks, at the touch of a button.  Sorry Mathboy, but you don't know what you are talking about.  Try watching Democracy Now; hardly a week goes by without another report about innocent people dying by drone attack.  How would you like living in one of these little villages that gets targeted on a regular basis?!  The people aren't even safe in their own homes.  We've created PTSD epidemics among entire populations.  Their suffering is unimaginable, to anyone who hasn't been through it.  If this isn't a crime against humanity, I don't know what is.  The greatest terrorist organization in the world is the U.S. government.  - Aliceinwonderland 

2950-10K's picture
Mark, your comment reminds me

Mark, your comment reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw at an occupy went something like this....Why do we kill people to show people who kill people that killing people is wrong?...illogical indeed!

2950-10K's picture
Aliceinwonderland, I think

Aliceinwonderland, I think Mathboy would have a different perspective if the drone was from China and his neighbor was the target.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
I concur.

I concur.

MMmmNACHOS's picture
Look mommy there's a plane in

Look mommy there's a plane in the sky...


RaleighMom: Thanx for those

RaleighMom: Thanx for those links. Would be really nice if we could regulate where their motto is "Killing is our business...and business is good!". Problem is...just like that first link..written in March of 2009 said:

"The arrival of a new administration in the United
States offers a unique opportunity for rethinking
the global regulation and accountability of private
military and security companies. There are positive
signs that the Obama administration will step up
efforts to improve regulation, both domestically
and internationally."

How did that turn out? They created the US and World Court and the IAEA which all seemed like great ideas back when they were first founded. And the US doesn't seem to want to be regulated by any of them. Regulation is for everyone else but not the US.

An international watchdog like the ISA to keep PMSCs in line would be great but I think the world is way past trying to keep these criminals in line. With those 'Bobblehead' revolving doors in the Pentagon and in positions of power in our government we are way past trying to use 'civilized' methods to keep these people in line. It's just a matter of time until these PMSCs will be unleashed on American citizens in the streets and homes of America with their armed drones flying overhead.

GSI: Global Security Industry—the industry made up of PMSCs

PMSC: Private military and security company

It's a bird! it's a plane!

It's a bird! it's a plane! eewwww yuck! damn birds! Better a bird than a drone armed with Tomahawk missiles.

MMmmNACHOS's picture
Aliceinwonderland MATHBOY

Aliceinwonderland MATHBOY knows what he's talking about...He, like so many patriotic jingos, just doesn't understand the full consequenses of what he supports. The "blow back" from drone attacks will be 10 fold compared to Pearl Harbor and 9/11 combined.


Of course Mathboy doesn't equate it this way.

I noticed that on a news

I noticed that on a news report on the TV just a few minutes ago that they flashed up on the screen the very same legal document:
CHRISTOPHER DORNER, Plaintiff and Appellant,
LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT et al., Defendants and Respondents

..that I had found on a search I did earlier and posted that in my comment #6

Almost everything you get, when doing a search, is the same old malarky..a repetition of the same stuff...same censored manifesto..and news propaganda....but when you put in terms to NOT search -manifesto and search for only older comes up with this document. When these shootings happen...I suspect the authorities go through the servers and try to pull everything about it off the internet. Then we are all left with just the garbage propaganda the authorities want us to hear.

Aliceinwonderland wrote:Drone

Aliceinwonderland wrote:
Drone warfare is a cowardly act of terrorism.

I certainly agree! There is nothing brave about sitting behind a computer, far from the targets, guiding these things, and murdering people by clicking on an "fire!" icon, or whatever. It's no more dangerous than playing a computer game.

MMmmNACHOS's picture
The Corporate U.S. Government

The Corporate U.S. Government - PALINDROMDARY - is by far a different Government than the one Of, For, and By the People. Only ignorant fools line up for "The Companies"...Another Soldiar, Another Sucker! ALL pawns for the war machine.

"I was greatly impressed to see that an acted perpetrated by the enemy was ipso facto vicious and deceitful, whereas the same act perpetrated by the United States was just and praise worthy." Stephen Fortunato, "We Won't Go"

Seems to me that Corporate America is made up of a bunch of murderous cowards with a mission statement full of hypocrisy.

nora's picture
Elite love drones. Drones are

Elite love drones.

Drones are the tools of enforcement of the Globalized Technocracy.

Drones main purpose is to perpetrate POLITICAL PURGES and thereby reduce resistance.

Drones will continue to exist only as long as TYRANNY rules.

The current debate allowing for drones as killing tools to be allowed for the military and drones as spy devices to be allowed for the CIA and FBI is a FALSE DEBATE.

Drones are as deadly to humankind as nuclear weaponry:  As nuclear radiation has the potential to stop all human life dead in its tracks, drones have the potential to kill all human choice, variety and progress just as dead in their tracks. 

A Brief History of

A Brief History of Plutocracy-

douglas m
between most americans

between most americans approving of drone attacks and all of the rest of the world disapproving. only 3% of americans have passports, then we have a media that bows to its agenga. 

that means 97% of people never hear an unbiased opion. 

and americans still wonder why other countries citizens dislike the U.S.??

Mark Saulys
Mark Saulys's picture
     That's how Germany went

     That's how Germany went from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich, emergency powers to the executive branch after the burning of the Reichstag. 

Mark Saulys
Mark Saulys's picture
     If arresting them in

     If arresting them in another country is not legal then killing them certainly isn't.  There are instances where an arrest isn't possible because the individual targeted maybe engaging in violent behaviour at the time so only deadly force or the threat of it may be possible to use and laws provide for that but the drone targets were often not engaged in violent actiity only had been in the past.

     As an act of warfare also illegal so illegal any how.




megalomaniac's picture
  It was interesting to


It was interesting to reflect on the political point of view about the Islam jihad toward America. In the elected circles our president specifically said America is not at war with Islam.


But, America releases Drones to seek out individuals that are anti-American, likely anti Judeo-Christian, that are preparing some form of terrorism, such as a mass murder anywhere in America. Or in all likely hood creating the effect through an economic environment that encourages desperate Americans to join their effort. This accumulated traumatic stress   destabilizes or produces chaos physiologically through the media. They know it.   


Americans now are given assurance these Trolls fill every criteria in this regard. Our Intelligence, coupled by our leadership believes is necessary to dispose of them in a convenient way. Ironically again one of the best Wahhabi Gaussian Bunker Banker driven political incentives ever devised.


Via investments groups that are perhaps not just Citi group largely owned by the Wahhabi, but also Canary Island postal addresses.


However, from my view this method to take out an enemy does look un-American and very Nazi. With that said, America is no better than the Nazi who medically tortured people during world war ll. Only the American Drones just fall out of the sky like manna from heaven. Here we have perhaps the perfect anti-Christian anti Jew formula to perpetuate a long struggle. Here, America offers a system wide open to be able to be used against it.


For me, it’s interesting how the word Troll is used on the Internet. Unaware of my own actions my messages might seem to appear as Trolling. Yet I believe in God and support Israel. This makes me an Infidel, right along with perhaps the large portion of America.  


What is not Christian by one European Definition is the Troll. Now what does that have to do with Drone theory?


Drones could be thought of as Troll seekers.


It is interesting that the Wiki definition of a non-Christian, Troll, from Old Norse sources, are beings described as trolls dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings. Many could say Osama Bin Laden filled that definitionof cave dwellers that is not Christian, but believes in God in another way.   


It all point to the first Amendment and is contrary to Islam they cannot tolerate any other religion. Here America’s basic Constitution first Amendment supports all, any types of believes which like seems crazy to Islam, therefore justified destroying.


From my view the Jihad paradox is where innocents destroy itself for lunatics to maintain power. That’s why secrets are not always a national security reason of good for all the citizens but the problem for the citizen. Sound familiar. It should it’s the Reagan pitch about government being the problem.    






Mark Saulys
Mark Saulys's picture
    We would consider it

    We would consider it barbaric beyond anything if muslims did that to christians.

dialindicator's picture
These drones whom some detest

These drones whom some detest and some approve are the first generation, the model T. Next will come the pre-programed DNA specified cyber-rodent or cyber-insect. After that... These so called tech-advancements we think would take decades, take years, then months, then? Sorry to sound like chicken little but this turns into govt-bullshit out of control. The founding documents didnt envision AR-15's in the hands of  us. Or is it they didnt envision unrestricted excecutive power in control of drones?

Who even hesitates to step on

Who even hesitates to step on a bug? Why? Because that bug doesn't have the capability of fighting back..and because we are on a different level of caring. We consider the bugs as pests. Or, maybe we are all jealous because we know that even after mankind nukes itself to oblivion, the lowly cockroach will still survive. The meek shall inherit the earth, you know, it says so in my Flying Spaghetti Monster Bible.

The Jains care so much they drink through a cheese cloth so as not to harm the bugs in the event they are in what they are drinking. It's not so much "eew a bug!". It's "aww poor along now, fellow life form."

If our pets were much, much bigger and more powerful than they are now...they'd eat us!

That's why we all need to be heavily armed. Having lots of weapons puts us in a different class than just being abused pets or lowly bugs.

There will come a day when the authorities are not the only ones flying armed drones in our skies. Some rebellious numbers of persons may very easily construct them in their own garages. Then, I suppose they will have to write new laws limiting the number of Tomahawk missiles that can be carried on the drones at any one time. Perhaps force these people, if they know who they are, to pass a psychological test before they can buy certain materials like epoxy resin and carbon fiber. Sorry boatbuilders, you're outta've got to be declared and blessed by some psychiatrist as being sane and not prone to making drones.

nora's picture
Funny how the USA entered

Funny how the USA entered that Cold War during Stalin's reign in the Soviet Union.  Stalin created every bit of nastiness the USA then turned into anti-Soviet propaganda points that moved Americans to support the Cold War: 

o lack of true freedom of speech

o oppression with unjust courts

o disappearances of the undesireables into far-away prisons

o a system of domestic spying by a repressive government

o unresponsive, bloated bureaucracy

And NOW?  Shockingly Bush II regressive policy has been embraced and further entrenched and enhanced by a Democratic President!

STALINISM is alive and well and growing in the United States of America.

Yup, if Stalin had had drones, he would've loved 'em.

nora: I certainly agree! The

nora: I certainly agree! The US is becoming more and more like the old Soviet Union...or ancient Rome. I just hope old Obama, or whoever succeeds him, doesn't go all Caligula or Nero on us.

csobek's picture
People who harbor terroist

People who harbor terroist and terrorist that hide behind innocent must be exposed by the victims themselves. Although the United States record in Central America is inexcusable. yet american corporations pulled the strings. Safety @ home from lead paint, or outraged spouse, or a catholic priest. sterotype all u want. Imperialism is a desease for power unregulated.

Legend's picture
A country like Pakistan that

A country like Pakistan that takes our aid, but harbors terrorists is hard for us to comprehend.  The only way to deal with it is to either invade, patrol with drone or get out.   Pakistan will continue to harbor terrorists that seek war with America.  Pakistan protected Osama Bin Ladin for years.  That is their culture.  We give aid to Pakistan to lower the Nuclear threat and have road access to Afganistan.  I sugest that we get out of Afghanistan and let it Harbor terrorist again and then we know where to find them.  Also stop aid to both.

Maybe we need to stop

Maybe we need to stop creating terrorists in the first place. It's not 'hearts and minds' our government/military have wanted... it's more enemies...more potential terrorists to be used as an excuse to continue soaking us out of our liberties and freedoms and tax dollars. Pakistan's wealthy elite, like everywhere else, enjoys skimming the cream off the top and tries to do an elusive dance to oppress and beguile their own people as well... There is a large contingent of people who, rightly, sees the US as the devil (after all they have murdered many civilians in their country) but the wealthy in control have to do what our politicians do... convince the masses that they are on their side but work behind their backs to keep reeling in all that wealth and power.