It’s been a busy week! On Monday the Guardian highlighted the MoD’s new document on the need for serious discussion on the ethics and legality of using drones (see post below), a story which was taken up by the Daily Mail, The Telegraph and many others.
On Wednesday evening James Cameron tweeted that this was the week – in his Terminator movies – that autonomous armed machines rose up against humanity. This sparked a lot of interest in autonomous weapon systems, including an article on drones on the BBC website.
And then on Thursday night Barack Obama approved the use of armed Predator drone in Libya. In between media interviews I’ve been watching this blog’s stats go through the roof!
Meanwhile drone strikes continue in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The MoD confirmed last week that UK drone have now conducted 167 armed drone strikes in Afghanistan. US strikes continue intermittently in Pakistan with the latest strike killing 25 people, including according to some reports five children. This strike comes almost a month after a strike on March 17th killed 44 people including many civilians. Relations between the US and Pakistan have reached crisis point over the drone strikes with many Pakistanis calling for the air force to shoot the drones down. Coincidently, Col Grant Webb, Commander of the US Joint UAS Centre of Excellence announced that Operation Blue Knight, this year, a regular drone training exercise, will this year feature F15’s and F16s trying to shoot down drones.
However, a story that has passed almost unnoticed in the mass of recent drones stories is the killing of two US servicemen by a US drone in Afghanistan in the first week of April. A key argument of those who support drone strikes is that they do not make mistakes as the drone’s incredibly accurate cameras can show the target in great detail allowing strikes to be made with pin-point accuracy. US spokespeople, when denying civilians have been killed, use this argument time and again. The killing of two US soldiers by a US drone in a so-called ‘friendly fire’ incident shows that drones are far from infallible.
Talking of fallibility, another Reaper drone has crashed – this time on a training mission in New Mexico. Time to update the drone crash database.
I’ll be back…..