Are Drones Morally Defensible?

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 30 2012 @ 11:45am

The reality of the robot war:

The CIA insists that it has not killed an innocent civilian in Pakistan for well over a year while eliminating hundreds of terrorists. People who know better sneer at this, including Jeffrey Addicott, a former special adviser to the U.S. Army special forces. At best, Addicott wrote, we should expect three innocent deaths for every two "bad guys. In the trade, this is called the ‘Oops’ factor."

Michael Hastings has more on the drone campaign:

[F]or every "high-value" target killed by drones, there's a civilian or other innocent victim who has paid the price. The first major success of drones – the 2002 strike that took out the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen – also resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen. More recently, a drone strike by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2010 targeted the wrong individual – killing a well-known human rights advocate named Zabet Amanullah who actually supported the U.S.-backed government. The U.S. military, it turned out, had tracked the wrong cellphone for months, mistaking Amanullah for a senior Taliban leader. A year earlier, a drone strike killed Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, while he was visiting his father-in-law; his wife was vaporized along with him. But the U.S. had already tried four times to assassinate Mehsud with drones, killing dozens of civilians in the failed attempts. One of the missed strikes, according to a human rights group, killed 35 people, including nine civilians, with reports that flying shrapnel killed an eight-year-old boy while he was sleeping. Another blown strike, in June 2009, took out 45 civilians, according to credible press reports."