US defends unmanned drone attacks after harsh UN report
UN special rapporteur Philip Alston on Wednesday called for a halt to US unmanned drone attacks, which he called a path to a 'Playstation' mentality towards killing.
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The Associated Press also quoted a former US intelligence official defending the use of drones. "Drone operations are essential," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center. "The drones are part of a much broader effort to put pressure on al-Qaida through the war in Afghanistan. They're the cutting edge of the pressure, but they're not the only pressure."Skip to next paragraph
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It’s easy to understand the appeal of a “push-button” approach to fighting Al Qaeda, but the embrace of the Predator program has occurred with remarkably little public discussion, given that it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force. And, because of the C.I.A. program’s secrecy, there is no visible system of accountability in place, despite the fact that the agency has killed many civilians inside a politically fragile, nuclear-armed country with which the U.S. is not at war.
Council on Foreign Relations fellow for conflict prevention Micah Zenko says that insurgents appear to be adapting to drone attacks and their usefulness may be waning. But he also argues that drone attacks remain an "essential tool for killing terrorists" even if their use should be more carefully scrutinized:
Targeted Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents in northwest Pakistan have responded to the increasing efficiency of the drone strikes by developing standard defensive tactics. [They've begun] killing suspected informants who provide intelligence, destroying communication towers that can better intercept satellite and cell phone signals; they've dispersed into smaller cells; they've moved into heavily populated areas where it is very unlikely that the United States will attempt strikes. So they've adapted defensive strategies in response....
Predator strikes are the worst kept covert secret in the history of US foreign policy.... [S]ince they are such a significant part of US national security strategy, they should be debated, not simply applauded.