Amnesty International's 'Game of Drones' campaign to protest automated extrajudicial assassinations


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The guys doing the “Game of Drones” videos on Youtube should sue these carpetbaggers for stealing their name.

I don’t really understand why drones are drawing flak, so to speak. Would it be okay if it was a helicopter gunship or a jet raining fire into civilians? Why the nuance? Just seems to be addressing the wrong issue.

It’s the convergence of two dangerous trends: semi-autonomous weapons and bureaucratic processes with limited oversight.

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Because the drones are the ones (operated under a variety of institutional guises) that do the vast majority of the ‘just killing somebody we think is somebody we don’t like, anytime, anywhere’, while manned aircraft are (mostly) confined to regular military units operating within some approximation of a defined area and rules of engagement.

It isn’t really about the technology per se (if the CIA grew a manned air force Amnesty wouldn’t be any happier about it); but as a matter of practice if an American aircraft extrajudicial-death-squads you, especially in some country we aren’t at war with, or are ostensibly allied with, odds are excellent that it’s a drone.

Regular armed forces do use some drones as well; but drones are front and center among the creepy clandestine types.


It’s going to be very hard to sustain viewer interest when we insist on running a ‘red wedding’ scene at least once every couple of weeks…


I would make a couple points about the use of drones, first the vast number of killings were secret and extrajudicial. Only becoming public because of whistle blowers and non US media. The drone strikes were probably in violation international law. The key is that the US Government, specifically the Obama administration is claiming it is legal, and yet would not substantially elaborate on the legal justifications. Also the secrecy surrounding who was killed and why, then there was the apparent “cooking of the books” in regard to the numbers of “combatants” and civilians killed. It is “old” news but Terror Tuesday is when the President would personally decide who was to be targetted in these mass killings.


Also when you have killing with no risk of retaliation (no skin in the game) then there is nothing to check you or make you even think twice. The US has become a serial killer nation.

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Not to mention many times it seems the “charges” (accusations?) against the victims are based solely on being a member or accused member of an organization even if they never actually can prove that they did anything or realistically would do something. I have to wonder how many people have been killed based on some bogus informant looking to settle a score or just get rid of someone.

Just got this announcement today:
Upcoming conference on drones and areal robotics that will be held at New York University, October 11, 20­13.

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Become? The US was, after all, founded upon genocide, slavery, and territorial expansion through armed conquest. When has the US not been murderous? At best, there have been times when the hope has been stronger that the US may finally stop being so murderous. Arguably, over time, the US has become less violent and brutal, and it threatens humanity more through political and economic hegemony and ecological recklessness than through direct violence; but the US still commits a great deal of violence.

I read Anton_P_Gully’s question as a fair one, since it’s a point I’ve had to pause and think about. Are we indulging in sensationalism, going on about “flying death robots”, when it’s just another weapon? Or, do drones actually represent a new and disturbing development? I’ve come to believe the latter, but it’s not a trivial question.

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Sums up what I was thinking. Drones are just a weapon, like a gun, a stick or a poison gas cloud. If (IF) it’s “extrajudicial” (illegal? again, not sure about the nuance here) then I fail to see why using a drone matters. If someone shoots another person dead does it matter if they were firing out of a window or in the open?

The entire current Western military machine, and I speak as someone who’s broadly in favour of it, is a lumbering, horrifying war-crime for any previous generation. The scope of what’s been justified to preserve peace is appalling.

As I said earlier, there’s a problem of a convergence of trends. On the one hand, there’s an unaccountable bureaucratic process, which converts intelligence data into orders to kill. On the other hand, the killing is performed by remote-controlled machines, with operators hundreds or thousands of miles away from the targets. There’s very little space for human intervention, to recognize that a decision has been made on faulty premises and should not be carried out.

I don’t think that bomber/fighter-bomber operators are renowned for their due-process triumphs(though they likely do recognize and head off friendly-fire incidents from time to time); but, for whatever procedural, historical, etc. reasons, the ‘regular’ military has largely maintained its monopoly on manned death from above. Presumably since drones evolved, recently, from unarmed surveillance devices, team spook has had a much easier time getting their hands on those.

In absolute numbers, it’s hard to argue that the ‘regular’ uniformed services aren’t more dangerous; but in terms of “haha, we find even the theory that who we kill is a matter of any legal oversight, scrutiny, or limit, unbelievably amusing!” it’s the clandestine side all the way, which Amnesty(not illogically) is concerned by.

I suspect that, in an ideal world, they’d actually like to curb war crimes and bring perps to justice; but (in the world they actually have to deal with) organizations that admit, at least in theory, that some things they do or are capable of might be illegal are a lower priority than organizations who consider that theory something of a joke.

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