"We don't have the time to go spy on people for no good reason.”
So spoke Superintendent Rod Drew of the New Zealand police, when questioned about our law enforcers using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – otherwise known as drones.
That may not be their intention, but its surprisingly easy to imagine the voice of Big Brother emanating from the bowels of a hovering Predator.
New Zealand certainly wouldn’t be the first – police departments in the US have consent to deploy drones (spot the military-industrial complex there), while plans for UK police to use them are accelerating forward.
Battlefields and kill zones can seem like a world away from an average city, but what was once purely military technology with little purpose but to kill indiscriminately and from a distance, is now about to invade our suburbs.
Some may argue that it’s nothing more than the natural evolution of warfare, but that supposes the warfare is both natural, and if allowed to recur, will evolve.
Even then, should it be allowed to evolve in to our streets?
Some say it protects soldiers, allowing drone ‘pilots’ to make dispassionate and calculated decisions, but it also, crucially, removes accountability.
Where Robert Bales can be tried and convicted for the murder of 17 innocent Afghan civilians, including nine children, the ‘pilot’ of the drone that killed between 17 and 24 people in Datta Khel on June 6th this year will likely go unpunished – possibly praised.
While I may raise my hand for Obama every now and again, my fundamental position remains the same: no human being should ever have the right to kill another human being without due process, and it is this extra-judiciary power that is causing so many avoidable deaths.
The frequency of drone strikes, especially ‘double tap’ attacks, has increased exponentially under Obama. 282 attacks have been carried out since January 2009, only 2% of those confirmed kills were known to be high-level targets after Obama re-wrote the rules of the game, defining the term ‘combatant’ as “a military-age male in a strike zone”.
“By “militant,” the Obama administration literally means nothing more than: any military-age male whom we kill, even when we know nothing else about them. They have no idea whether the person killed is really a militant: if they’re male and of a certain age they just call them one in order to whitewash their behavior…”
While his predecessor may have tortured and extraordinarily rendered terror suspects in stunning abuses of power and due process, at least he didn’t kill them.
And despite the secret killings, we’re still considering deploying these all-seeing machines in our neighbourhoods? It’s a frightening prospect.I filed my story September 24th, and this has come through today. Go figure.
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