GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 6, 2013

Letter: Oversight accountability in drone strikes


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

During President Harry Truman’s tenure, we dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.

“Oh, it saved thousands of lives,” was the rejoinder when this horrific act took place. It seemed not to matter that Japan was on the point of surrender if the citizens could keep their emperor, since we were really demonstrating our superior military prowess to the then-Soviet Union. On and on it went through the Cold War and out the other side, leaving military bases in 800 locations throughout the world, proof positive of our superiority.

Fast forward to the use of drones. A third of the aircraft the military has invested in are drones, up from only 5 percent in 2005. They have the distinguishing characteristic of being capable of long-distance remote control killing and a resulting preemptive elimination of suspected enemies — never mind that countless civilians, including women and children, are killed.

Drone strikes have killed thousands of Pakistanis and children are fearful of going to school and have dropped out and adults avoid going to public gatherings like weddings and funerals.

The president has the self-declared power to authorize lethal force against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and without trial. He even has a “kill list.”

These drone strikes and targeted killings are immoral and illegal under international law and a violation of the sovereignty of nations with whom we’re not at war. And they create blowback, serving to recruit extremists who are prepared to battle us. Drones are also used for surveillance and come in different sizes from small ones that are capable of being in peoples’ houses collecting supposedly incriminating data to large “predator” drones.

We should be alarmed and insist on clear restrictions, transparent practices, independent oversight and accountability — the elements of the “rule of law.”

CYNTHIA FISK

Chapel Street, Gloucester