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We’ve discussed drones on this blog before, generally agreeing that killing enemy combatants with unmanned drones can be morally legitimate but leery about their seemingly indiscriminate use.

A new report called ” Living Under Drones” serves as further proof that our leeriness is justified. According to the report, in addition to  killing and harming  far more civilians than the government admits, drones may be  strategically unwise because they are often inaccurate, serve as a recruiting tool for militants, undermine the rule of law, and set dangerous precedents for other countries.

These facts aren’t exactly news, but this report, which was produced by human rights experts at Stanford and NYU, gives a voice to the people actually affected by drone strikes in Pakistan. A couple excerpts from their interviews:

We did not know that America existed. We did not know what its geographical location was, how its government operated, what its government was like, until America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan . . . . We didn’t know how they treated a common man. Now we know how they treat a common man, what they’re doing to us.
We know that the consequences of drone strikes are extremely harsh. Our children, our wives know that our breadwinners, when they go out to earn a livelihood, they might not come back, and life may become very miserable for them in the years to come . . . . Now we are always awaiting a drone attack and we know it’s certain and it’s eventual and it will strike us, and we’re just waiting to hear whose house it will strike, our relatives’, our neighbors’, or us. We do not know. We’re just always in fear.


These attacks have been on schools, on  maliks, on elders, and on different buildings . . . . Sometimes when people are moving in cars, they are hit. Sometimes when they are gathering with friends, they are hit . . . . My own relatives, close family relatives, have been killed. Elders of the villages, the maliks,  the children of the schools, other children, all have been victims of strikes.
[In one case,] there was a drone attack on a religious teacher while he was coming in a car with some other people, after which he was brought to the village. A lot of people were gathering, the small children and families were gathered, and another drone attack happened, killing the small children. Two drone attacks in a single day.

Here’s hoping that the report, available in full online, will lead the administration to rethink, or at least more publicly account for, its reckless use of drones.

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