Support for drone use ignores vital questions

The News editorial regarding drone warfare ignores a critical issue: What kind of accountability, and what checks and balances, should exist in a democracy that chooses to fight its enemies remotely? Of course, every U.S. citizen wants to save the lives of our service members, and using an unmanned weapon allows delivery of potent weapons without placing U.S. citizens in harm’s way.

But what is a “terrorist,” as the editorial glibly used the word? Does it include U.S. citizens abroad? Might it someday include drone use against people inside the United States deemed “terrorists”? What kind of proof should we have before targeting an individual or group, and what does this verdict without open trial mean for us as a people who acknowledge a need for some transparency in our republic? Finally, what political limits are we going to discuss for a technology that has few if any limits, and, ultimately, who adds/subtracts people from the “kill list” that our military uses to prioritize targets currently with its drone program?

Americans want to prevent avoidable deaths among our service members. But what about all of these other critical questions? The answers will determine not only how the United States uses these weapons but also how others may one day choose to use them against us. The editorial did not clarify any of these critical issues and advances the overall discussion not one bit.

Steve Evans