Droning On: The Continued Use of Predator Drones in the War on Terror Despite Legality Questions

Since the beginning of 2009, the use of unmanned drone attacks in the war on terror has increased dramatically. The legality and overall effectiveness of these attacks, however, remains hotly debated. As to their legality, there is much debate as to whether the CIA, which conducts many of the attacks, is authorized to engage enemies in such a manner. There have also been questions as to the legality of targeting individuals, (sometimes American citizens), in countries with which we are currently not at war (Yemen, et al.). Do you think unmanned drone attacks should be legal under international law? If so, should the CIA be able to conduct the attacks or should the task be left up to the military? Lastly, do you think that using unmanned drone attacks is an effective way to wage war?

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  1. Unmanned drones are important due to their efficiency and accuracy in targeting combatants. Simultaneously there needs to exist the security of accountability in order to be in accord with international law. The problem we see here is that the United States’ use of these drones is operated by the C.I.A., and thus cloaked in secrecy. It seems to me that a huge part of the issue is the lack of transparency in operation. The C.I.A. is not going to broadcast its strategy, and due to that secrecy I’m sure it is difficult to say on whom exactly the accountability is placed. Perhaps if the person who “controls” the drone is a member of the military, that will be satisfactory assurance of accountability.

  2. I think unmanned drone attacks should be permitted, but that there should be very strict requirements that must be met before a targeted suspect is attacked by a drone. For example, a drone attack should be a last resort. If it is possible to capture a suspect and hold him for questioning, the drone attack should not be permitted. A captured terror suspect will be much easier to obtain information from than a dead one. While I understand the concern over CIA secrecy, it seems to me that it makes sense to allow them to conduct the attacks. The drones are accurate and capable of clearly depicting terror suspects and I do not believe that the CIA would purposely attack on anyone who was not a suspect. The use of drones is certainly an effective way to wage war. There is evidence that shows drones have been extremely effective in the war against Al Qaeda, killing more than a dozen Al Qaeda leaders. I cannot say that a program which has been responsible for killing many of Al Qaeda’s top leaders is improper.

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