Drone ‘Debate’ Breaks Out at Washington Post

Readers of the Washington Post can see this headline in today’s edition (4/25/11) about the U.S. drone airstrikes:

Debates Underway on Combat Drones

But there is no actual debate in the article. Reporter Walter Pincus cites a British military study that calls the use of missile-firing drones “a genuine revolution in military affairs,” adding that the “use of unmanned aircraft prevents the potential loss of aircrew lives and is thus in itself morally justified.”

Pincus goes on to explain:

At a Washington conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) last week, the issue of drones was also widely discussed.

That “wide discussion” would seem to have involved drone proponents from the CIA and the military. Those quoted by the Post were:

–“Lt. Col. Bruce Black, program manager for the Air Force Predator and Reaper aircraft.”

–“former CIA director Michael V. Hayden,” who explained that drone pilots “can call up computer maps that show the potential effects of each weapon.” Hayden explained that teams can ask for an attack’s likely impact on the ground–which is apparently called “the bug splat.”

–“Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, former Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” who apparently talked about “potential problems with public perceptions.”

–“Col. Dean Bushey, deputy director of the Air Force Joint Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center,” who explained that drone pilots train like conventional pilots.

There are plenty of questions to ask about a government policy of assassination by remote-controlled drone aircraft–including whether or not this is even legal. The Post‘s “debate” would seem to exclude anyone who doesn’t think this is a sound policy.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.