US drones could be killing the wrong people because of metadata errors


I doubt there was a moral “right” and “wrong” implied here. Clearly we are talking about “right people to kill” as in “people the US government had killed intentionally” and “wrong” in the sense of “people the US government didn’t plan to kill, but didn’t care enough about not to drop a bomb on their location”.

I doubt there was a moral “right” and “wrong” implied here.

I’m clearly in no shape to take part in the discussion of the right for nation-states to murder individuals without habeas corpus.

Are you stating that there is no moral implications in this practice?

What I understood from your comment was that you read the original article in a way like it suggested that there were people whom to kill via drone strikes was morally wrong and that it implicitly suggested that there were people whom to kill via drone strikes was morally right. I deny that interpretation and suggest that the article merely states that these drone strikes kill even more people than those whom to kill is declared morally justified in the statements of the US government, and elaborates on a technical reason why this is the case. Thus, I read the original article as a statement against the practice of drone strikes, rather as a justification.

Oh and by the way, are you by any chance stating that there are no moral implications in the practice of nation-states of killing people with habeas corpus and due process and all thelegal niceties? Because I think there still are. Sorry, had to ask that, just to be a dick.

It would make a fairly clever method of assassination.

Set up a phone in such a way that it is a ‘terrorist’ sim card. Then plant it in the house of somebody you don’t like. Send it messages from burner phones talking about big plans and such, then stand back and watch the fireworks when the cowboys send their robot to kill.

That right there is a scene in an SF novel I probably will never get around to writing.

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Indeed. And if somebody asks you to carry their bag, don’t.

Also, Pakistani tribal areas are where it is active now. A couple more presidents and an economic meltdown combined with another terrorist attack and it will be in your backyard. (or in your neighbour’s yard if you have the sense to keep your phone in his garden shed).

Wait, non-Americans are people?


Yes, they are - which is why this policy needs to be stopped. It’s wrong. Would I like to contribute even $1 to a scheme that routinely murders innocent people by remote control? No.

The USA prides itself on nominally having due process and equal protection under the law for citizens. But apparently it’s OK to murder citizens with dual nationality abroad, without making any attempt to bring them to justice. The only thing that makes government legitimate is consent of the people governed. This is why we have courts - we make the best effort possible to prove beyond doubt that someone has committed a crime before punishing them, we prefer to let prosecutions in ambiguous cases fail rather than jail possibly innocent people, where the evidence is wholly circumstantial or equivocal.

Yet even the ‘best’ country in the world is failing ethically. Suppose in 10-20 years time when every nation state has drone technology and their equivalent NSA, and no pretence at moral qualms. Suppose Russia starts flying drones over Georgia and Chechnya to bomb ‘terrorists’ using the same standards of proof as the USA? Suppose China starts flying drones over Tibet and Israel starts flying armed drones over Palestine and the West Bank? Suppose Syria could fly drones over the areas undergoing civil war to bomb the FSA?

If the USA is standing up and saying “it’s okay to use lethal force in response to secret evidence (assessed without allowing the defendant / citizen accused / target to respond and assert their innocence), and with only cursory regard to accuracy in selecting the target” then the USA will have no authority to criticize other countries who employ the same tactic once the technology becomes imitated and widely available.

If it’s true that drones are the equivalent of “Little Boy” for the 21st century, then when North Korea gains it’s senses, it will shelve plutonium enrichment efforts and go all-out into drone research and manufacture. Drones are the new IED or rocket launcher. They’re comparatively cheap to build and they’d sell, they can be used without igniting world war 3.

Would it be a sane world if every country was bombing people in every other country by remote control? No, it would be insane. There would be tens of thousands of deaths a year.

It’s sick and repulsive, unaccountable and counter to the interests of the USA, both in terms of it’s reputation internationally and in terms of world leadership. If China was flying drone sorties over the USA, you can be sure it would drive recruitment for the US Army - why does America think it’s programme of drone attacks will have any other result than driving recruitment for extremists in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan?

If even people in the Army’s own personnel are leaking about their programs and walking away because those programs are viscerally immoral, then those programmes need to be halted.


Because they hate freedom, duh.

That kind of shit happens to Brian Krebs all the time. Writing SF faster than it happens is getting really difficult…

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