On CBS Sunday Morning, President Barack Obama’s administration was defending its use of mechanical drones on suspected terrorist. Obama’s use of “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” has stirred controversy since he first mentioned the existence of these drones back in January 2012.
Warfare continues to evolve as technology advances, and the president’s administration has been linked to drone strikes dating back to 2004. Prior to 2004, the MQ-1B Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper drones were used mainly for surveillance in Pakistan.
The remotely piloted drones include visual sensors which allow those operating them to hone in on targets from miles away. The Reaper is armed with four hellfire missiles, each complete with its own guidance computer. The ability to lock onto targets from a distance is a critical advantage on the warfront.
The Predator’s military purpose was to provide intelligence on hostiles, while the Reaper’s mission was to carry out the “kill chain,” by tracking and eliminating high-priority terrorist targets.
In 04’, the CIA launched its first missile strike in Waziristan, and since then the New America Foundation’s data concludes that the CIA secretly carried out 349 drone attacks throughout Pakistan and Yemen.
Obama recently told CNN that classified targets meet “very tight and very strict standards,” before attacks are carried out. CIA director and Obamas counterterrorism chief John Brennan said that civilians have been injured accidently or even killed in “exceedingly rare” cases.
The New America Foundation’s estimations show in the range of 1,953 and 3,279 people have been killed by drones since 04’ in Pakistan, and estimate around 646 and 928 deaths in Yemen.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism believes that the government is not telling the whole story about these drone attacks. Stanford Law prof. James Cavallaro and his team went to Pakistan to conduct the “Living Under Drones,”study. The study estimates that “363 CIA drone strikes,” has killed between 2,634 to 3,468 people and 473 to 893 civilians. His team also believes the United States may be responsible for anywhere between 72 to 178 civilian casualties of the 374 to 1,112 deaths in Yemen according to the study.
Cavallaro said on CBS Sunday morning, “we don’t hear enough about the costs, civilians killed, civilians injured, destruction of communities,” as result of this drone activity. He says that with all things considered, “there are serious doubts about whether drones are the best option.”