Predator drones as Game Changers

In warfare, death from the sky is almost as old as the Zeppelin. But the Predator drones may have brought something new to violent conflict. It's been ten years since the unmanned vehicles were first put to use as weapons in Afghanistan. Today, we hear how they've turned backyards into battlefields.



Part Two of The Current

Predator drones as Game Changers - Saudallah Lawyer

Saudallah remembers that sometime between cleaning up the dinner dishes and evening prayers, he was crippled for life. It was 2009, and his home in a small Pakistani town suddenly crumbled following a U.S. drone attack. And there was a lots more lost as well.

In 2002, the CIA first used an unmanned Predator drone in what it called a targeted attack. Since then, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism says as many as 3,000 people have been killed by drones .... as many as 800 of them were civilians and nearly 200 were children.

Many believe the use of drones is a game-changer for how the U.S. wages war. Supporters praise the precision of the weapons ... as well as the ability to strike targets difficult to reach by other means. But Shahzad Akbar says that too many innocent people die in the craters left by drone attacks.

Shahzad Akbar is a lawyer who represents Saudallah and about 70 other Pakistani families who have lost relatives in what they believe were drone attacks. He's also Director of Pakistan's Foundation for Fundamental Rights. He was in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Predator drones as Game Changers - Retired U.S. Army Colonel

The drones have their opponents in the U.S. as well. Last year, Retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright and dozens of other protesters demonstrated at the Hancock Army Base in Syracuse, New York. It's one of the bases that operates the drones. The protesters were all arrested and earlier this month received light sentences.

Ann Wright is a Retired U.S. Army Colonel and a former U.S. State Department diplomat who resigned in 2003 to protest the Iraq War. She was in Houston, Texas.

Predator drones as Game Changers - Human Rights Watch

The first time the U.S. used a predator drone in a targeted killing was in 2002. The target was a tall man, a man the US believed was Osama bin Laden. The man who was killed was tall all right, but he turned out to be a villager foraging for scrap metal.

John Sifton is the Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch. He recently wrote a cover story for The Nation Magazine called A Brief History of Drones and he says drones have been a game-changer in modern warfare. It's from his upcoming book, The Violence All Around. He was in Washington.

Tomorrow on The Current, we'll take a look at what will happen when drones are flying over our own backyards.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.

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