My letter on armed drones

The Guardian has published my letter in response to the Philip Alston report calling for similar scrutiny of the British use of armed drones.

Philip Alston’s report to the UN human rights council (Report, 4 June) on CIA drone strikes in Pakistan raises issues of extreme concern for those who are just as worried about the UK’s use of armed drones in Afghanistan. The UK has launched attacks using armed drones over 80 times since May 2008, yet all requests for information on the circumstances of the use of British drones and resulting civilian casualty figures have so far been refused. The “Playstation mentality” reported by Alston is not confined to the CIA. A US military inquiry into the deaths of 27 Afghan civilians following a Nato attack in February reported this week that drone operators had downplayed information that civilians were in the attacked convoy. It seems reasonable to conclude that British drone operators, too, are susceptible to the reality that, from thousands of miles away, launching weapons at a blip on a video screen makes the choice to kill far too easy. We once again call on the government to release details of the circumstances in which armed drones are being used by British forces.

Chris Cole

Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation

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