Droning On

Friday, May 22, 2009


Civilian casualties have always been a PR problem for American military and intelligence forces, but outrage in Pakistan and Afghanistan from recent death tolls threatens to further destabilize the region. Amid criticism of air strikes, reporters are getting unprecedented access to one of the more controversial weapons in the U.S. arsenal – the unmanned drone. Noah Shachtman, contributing editor for Wired magazine, was invited by the military to see for himself how it works.

    Music Playlist

Comments [5]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Great work, both OTM and Mr. Halloran! I've been meaning to discuss this subject with my cousin who served as either a Lt. Colonel or a Colonel, I believe, in Afghanistan.

May. 28 2009 08:45 PM
Neil Halloran from Austin, TX

More on why hiding amongst civilians "works", and why locals blame attacker not hiders.

I have to disagree a little with Noah's answer here - that locals awed by US technology don't think our bombs could go astray.

Firstly, stray bombs are not the primary cause of civilian deaths - it usually involves an assortment of factors related to poor intelligence and the fog of battle. Afghans, more than any other people I can think of, are capable of understanding the complexities of war and the limitations of technology. For example, there have been cases when Taliban seeded false information to orchestrate assassination using U.S firepower, and the locals blamed the Taliban, not the U,S.

A large part of the anger related to the latest U.S. strike was caused by the American denial of casualty numbers and focus on fringe stories that deaths were caused by Taliban grenades, not U.S. bombs. This enrages the locals. I think the U.S. military is making the mistake of combating Taliban propaganda and misinformation by using similar such tactics. Accidents can't be avoided completely, but when they do occur, it would be in our interest to respect the intelligence of the locals and be upfront and apologetic.

I am so glad that this show (one of my favorites) did a piece on this.. I run a project called Our Bombs, that tracks U.S. air strikes and media coverage.

May. 24 2009 03:58 PM
J. Fele from USA

Creech Commanders Chablis and Keebler and his elves and the CIA are full of Cowards and Punks flying (Child and Virgin) Predators. "Live in fame or die in flame," not any more, now its live like your are a flaming...and get the medals and flight pay in your safe, cozy, easy chair playing real world Nintendo with real bombs and missiles and lots of dead Innocent women and children. "The Mission is to fly and fight and do not forget it", not sit and play! Talk about the Wimp factor. PS And they still keep on killing Innocent Women and Children and only a few AQ/Taliban. How Disgusting.

May. 23 2009 11:19 AM
Jasson from Honolulu, HI

It's one thing to wonder whether it is a good idea to make enemies of Af/Paks by killing civilians while protecting the troops, but to have Garfield throw in an aside which seems to whitewash the Israeli crimes in Gaza outrageous!

May. 23 2009 12:28 AM
Dave Buchen from San Juan, PR

Why does hiding amongst civilians "work"?
I can still picture cops, from TV shows and movies, at the shooting range. Pistol in hand, they would walk the gauntlet and cardboard criminals would pop out at them and the cops would blow 'em away.
But then a civilian cardboard cut out would pop out and if that cop shot it, everything would stop. Everyone's face would turn grave and solemn. Because you never shoot the innocent bystander when you're after the criminal.
That's why taking hostages works, as well. You don't do anything to endanger the innocent bystander.
Drones are not people and somehow the military that they are thus exempt from that basic rule.
But tell that to the innocent bystanders.

May. 22 2009 11:38 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.