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Published on Oct 31, 2012
President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may not agree on much, but they're both totally into the use of unmanned aircraft known as drones to hunt down and kill real and imagined threats to the American way of life.
Whenever you've got top Democrats and top Republicans getting along, you know something has gone horribly wrong.
Here are three reasons why drone strikes are really freaking scary.
1. They're not that accurate.
One of the main selling points of drone strikes is their supposedly surgical precision. Rather than carpet-bombing entire city blocks to nail one or two bad guys, now we can just zap them without harming anyone else.
But a new study from researchers at NYU and Stanford concludes that as many 881 civilians - including 176 children - have been killed by US drone strikes in northern Pakistan since 2004. Worse still are reports that targets get blasted repeatedly, to ward off rescuers from helping the wounded.
2. There's no legal framework.
Drone strikes have been carried out in countries with whom we're allies or against whom we've yet to declare war. They are the principal way in which President Obama's infamous "kill list" is made operational and yet nobody knows how such decisions are being made. As The New York Times said earlier this year, "a unilateral campaign of death is untenable."
Not only is such a campaign immoral on its face, it only damages America's standing in the world.
3. It's only going to get worse.
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that in 20 years, as many as 30,000 drones could be filling the skies over America, doing everything from promoting local restaurants to executing warrantless snooping for local, state, and federal cops. That includes "nano drones," that will the size of a small flying insect. As it stands, the taxpaying public has basically zero information on how many drones are being used by which parts of government.
That's led the ACLU to file a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to find out more about the technical capabilities of drones and what parts of government are already up there in the wild blue yonder.
We need to force the government to be transparent on drones long before the machines start blotting out the sun.
About 2.30 minutes. Produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, who also narrates.