Technological advancements often bring with them moral and ethical issues. Two such technologies that are often in the news today have to do with drones and the cyber world of the internet. Part I will deal with drone technology and Part II will deal with cyber technology.
Drones and the War on Terrorism: Abroad and at Home
The inspiration for today’s subject came from a recent thought-provoking post at Freedom By The Way where she discusses what has become known as Obama’s personal hit list and asks the question: “Is murder by drone constitutional?” This is an excellent article and includes a short video where Judge Andrew Napolitano weighs in on the subject Here is a thought-provoking quote from the article:
“According to published estimates, US agencies have conducted at least 27 strikes against Yemeni targets in the last three years, killing some 250 people.”
Were all 250 killed actually plotting against the US? Does it matter? Does it matter that Yemen, like Pakistan is a sovereign nation against whom the US has not officially declared war, in fact we give financial aid, and yet we sneak in our unmanned, armed drones and target individuals in those countries? Including the attack last September killing US citizen and terror suspect Anwar al-Awlaki?
The stealth unmanned drones equipped with high-tech cameras with facial recognition software and very deadly weaponry have changed the face of war as we have known it.
A very strange story, that 6,000-word front-page New York Times piece on how, every Tuesday, Barack Obama shuffles “baseball cards” with the pictures and bios of suspected terrorists from around the world and chooses who shall die by drone strike. He even reserves for himself the decision of whether to proceed when the probability of killing family members or bystanders is significant.
This technology and the way it is being used raises many question that Americans should ponder.
- The question raised by Freedom By The Way is fundamental. Is what the President is doing constitutional? Is this war or is this murder? The “War on Terror” brought to us by G. W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center covers a lot of sins. It is a war not against any nation rather against anyone anywhere that may be planning to do harm to our nation or our people anywhere in the world. It is a war that can never end. Our constitution says that only Congress has the right to declare war. But our Congress abdicated that authority to the Executive Branch after World War II.
- In as much as our Congress abdicated its authority over war, is the use of drones nothing more than an evolution in the way America conducts war? Since WWII, our presidents have sent our troops to war many times with the mission to kill as many of the designated enemy as possible. The enemies, of course, did their best to kill as many of our troops as possible. Now, with drone technology, our presidents can isolate individual enemies or groups of enemies and kill them without putting our troops in harm’s way. Isn’t that something we should celebrate? Or, are there other issues that should concern us.
- Who are our enemies? What is the criteria for someone being put on the presidential hit list? Do they have to have committed and act of violence against America or does belong or associating with groups that “think” about doing harm to America a sufficient reason to appear on the hit list? Why is there not, at least, some Congressional over sight on the President’s power to kill?
- In as much as it is human nature to push the edge of the envelope, how long will it be before the enemy list is expanded to include persons close to top officials in rogue nations like Iran, North Korea or, Syria with the intention of putting the “fear of God”, sort of speak, in the heads of those rogue nations?
- As far as we know, the United States is the only country using drone technology to spy and to kill in foreign countries. But, mysteriously, one of our drones made a soft landing in Iran a while back. So, how long will it be before China, Russia and, Iran have use of that technology to use against the United States?
- Recently the FAA and DHS approved the use of some 30,000 drones to fly the skys of America. We are told they will be unarmed and will not be used to spy on Americans but to protect Americans. Do you really trust all the approved agencies will not abuse this technology? How long will it take before a drone operator is corrupted to use it for nefarious purposes? How will we know if the drones are doing something illegal? If a drone spots suspicious activity, will the agency get a court order before using technology to see inside of homes and cars? What information will be recorded and how will that information be used?
- If the stealth technology is as good as we are told, could enemy drones invade our skys undetected? If so, what is to prevent them from carrying out terrorist attacks on US soil? If, for example, an US agency was using drones to patrol our border with Mexico, what would stop an enemy drone based in Mexico (think Hamas) from crossing the border and intentionally killing some illegal immigrants and making it look like the US was responsible?
Obviously there is no end to these questions. What would you suggest to control the moral and legal issues of this drone technology? The problem is that once the genie is out of the bottle, it is impossible to put it back.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?