MPs to question use of drones amid concerns over their ethics

Nov 20, 2012

Examination of the use of armed drones could help lift lid on 'America's secret war'


BRITISH MPS are to investigate the use of drones in modern warfare, in a move that could shed light on the US policy of using unmanned ariel vehicles, or UAVs, to kill terror suspects.

The Times reports that the Commons Defence Select Committee is to look at the deployment of UAVs as part of its wider inquiry into the Afghan campaign. The RAF is set to double its fleet of armed Reaper drones in Afghanistan to ten and is to shift the base from which they are operated from the US to Britain.

The news comes a month after the creation of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, led by Tom Watson and Zac Goldsmith, which has called for a debate on the ethics of drones in modern warfare.

In an early day motion last month, Watson said the UK was "sharing information with other states for the purposes of targeted killings" and called for discussion over "the human rights questions which arise from the direct and indirect use of drones by the UK".

The CIA has been using drones to kill terror suspects in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, explains the Times. "The programme, dubbed 'America's secret war', is credited with weakening al-Qaeda but causing hundreds of civilian casualties and fuelling a hatred of the West," the paper notes.

There are concerns about the legality of the strikes, which frequently take place away from conflict zones. "Washington argues that under the doctrine of self-defence following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it has authority to hunt any al-Qaeda or Taliban militant anywhere in the world.”

Britain, the US and Israel are, so far, the only countries to have used armed drones. A UAV was used to assassinate the Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari, setting off the current conflict in Gaza.

James Arbuthnot, the Conservative chairman of the Defence Committee, said: "The issues that are concerning people are the distance between the person who is controlling that platform and the death that results from it."

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Thank you UK for bringing this out from the murky shadows. It is called the "secret war" because it is illegal bombardment and violation of sovereign territory without UN sanction. One would suspect that had the "special relationship" not forced the UK to accept transfer of operations of the secret war on its soil, this issue would never have seen the light of the day. Thank goodness for the "special relationship" then?

Ironically, the man who has authorized and encouraged this secret war is the same man who was awarded the 2008 Nobel Peace prize right after getting elected as the US president. So much for the peace then for those innocent civilian being murdered as part of the "collateral damage". How convenient. Makes a complete mockery of the Nobel committee's many other Nobel prizes must be awarded in this dubious distinction???

What if every country on Earth decided that they needed to follow their own "doctrine of self-defense" ??? Why is that "Washington" is allowed to use this doctrine, but if the Iranians use this same doctrine, then it is unacceptable? Not only that, but which only other country closely connected to the US is goaded to use this same "doctrine of self-defense" and thus also gets away with violations of international law and mass murder in the middle east? Let's keep a blind to another holocaust in the middle east - all in the name of the "doctrine of self-defense"....

Should there not be a UN call for war crimes charges against the US for murdering innocent people in Pakistan and Afghanistan? And likewise for the US ally using chemical weapons of mass destruction (phosphorus bombs) against civilians???

Where is it written in the UN charter that only the US and its close ally in the middle east are the only two countries that are allowed to violate international laws willy-nilly and get away with it with excuses of "doctrine of self-defense" ?

Self-defense against an enemy that the US cannot even identify clearly [hence the "long war"]. So how can it even be claimed as self defense if you don't know your enemy?? Shouldn't the civilized world be asking this? Or did civilization go out of the window just the like the British Empire did?