The US has stepped up it's use of drones in Pakistan's tribal region. The drone program is run by the CIA, Special forces units and various civilian contractors. Deeply unpopular among Pakistani residents because of the high civilian death toll, the drone program operates in a theater without oversight or accountability. What's interesting here is that right now a new realm of warfare is quickly unfolding before our eyes. Pakistan could be a microcosm of the future of war in which robot replaces soldier. Already, the US is working on NANO Drones...which are the size of birds or insects.
Jane Mayer’s “The Predator War” in the current New Yorker is a must-read addressing an essential issue... have our accountability and oversight mechanisms kept track with technological developments? The answer seems equally clear: no.
UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston said the US needs to be more up front, ‘otherwise you have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability.’
All told, as many as 10 militant leaders fell to the drones in 2009, in addition to hundreds of lower-level militants and civilians.
The killing of civilians in drone attacks is an important and politically charged issue in Pakistan. The strikes are quite unpopular among Pakistanis, who view them as violations of national sovereignty; according to a Gallup poll from August 2009, only 9 percent approved of such attacks. Statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities in early January 2010 indicated that more than 700 civilians were killed by the drones in 2009 alone.
At the other end of the spectrum, an anonymous U.S. government official told the New York Times in early December that “just over 20” civilians and “more than 400” fighters had been killed in less than two years.
Other commentators have suggested that the civilian death rate from the drone attacks in Pakistan is 98 percent, while one study claims it is only 10 percent. Trying to ascertain the real civilian death rate from the drone strikes is important both as a moral matter and as a matter of international law, which prohibits indiscriminate attacks against civilians.
Compounding the issue is that the civilians who die in these strikes are the citizens of a U.S. ally, and just as it has become a core doctrine of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan that civilians must be protected, so too it should be across the border in Pakistan.Read more here...
The Predator War
What are the risks of the C.I.A.’s covert drone program?http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/10/26/091026fa_fact_mayer
Death From Above, Outrage Down Below.The Secret US War in Pakistan
At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, "snatch and grabs" of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.
The Year of the Drone
An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2010http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/26/the_year_of_the_drone
Here's a documentary about the future of Drone warfare:
BBC ---Mapping the Drone Attacks: A Special Report...