The danger of our shoot to kill terrorist policy
May 8th, 2013
09:39 AM ET

The danger of our shoot to kill terrorist policy

‘Beyond the Manhunts: How to Stop Terror’ – a GPS special premieres 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET this Sunday

By Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr. is the former chief of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and head of the National Clandestine Service and author of Hard Measures. The views expressed are his own.

When I first published my memoir Hard Measures, How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives, a year ago, I got lots of requests to participate in documentaries. I turned most of them down. But I agreed to be interviewed for Greg Barker’s Manhunt because of a promise he made – and kept – to tell the story using only the voices of the people involved in the search for Osama bin Laden. Too many filmmakers and journalists come to this story with their own agenda. They arrive with all the answers and only seek snippets of quotes to bolster the conclusions they have previously made.

Barker took another approach and let the men and particularly the women of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center explain their reasoning and actions. Viewers hear directly from those who were central to raising the alarm about bin Laden and long before most Americans had heard of him – and those who contributed to bringing down the al Qaeda leader and most of his henchmen.

Reasonable people can and do disagree about the tactics we employed. But no one should doubt the sincerity and motivations of these intelligence officers. Manhunt does an excellent job of illuminating not only the meticulous work done by CIA officers, but also the pressure we all felt to prevent follow-on attacks.

The recent tragedy in Boston, in which four people were brutally murdered by terrorists, provided a small reminder of how this country felt after 9/11. Immediately after the marathon bombing, there were public questions of why our security services had not done more to prevent such a heartless act.

Now think back to the days just after 9/11, when nearly 3,000 lives were lost. CIA officers who had been on the forefront of raising the alarm about al Qaeda found themselves blamed for the country’s lack of preparedness. Time and again they were told to do whatever was necessary to prevent a repeat of the World Trade Center attacks.

More from CNN: The folly of drone attacks

As awful as the Patriot’s Day attack was, we must not lose sight of the fact that CIA officers have been successful not only in cornering bin Laden in Abbottabad, but also in capturing most of his top aides. In the process, they have made it difficult, if not impossible, for others to match the horrors of September 11.

We did so by tracking down key leaders of al Qaeda one-by-one. Where possible, we captured them and elicited from them by sometimes tough – but always legal means – information that allowed us to largely dismantle the terrorist organization and thwart follow-on attacks.

There have been recent press reports about a lengthy so-called nonpartisan review of U.S. interrogation programs and an even lengthier, still-classified, Senate Intelligence Committee report, which suggest that our enhanced interrogation methods did not produce valuable intelligence. Both reports are fatally flawed because they failed to take a basic step. Unlike the director of Manhunt, they did not factor in the views of people who actually worked on the program.

As time passed and the smoke cleared, many Americans forgot the sense of anger and grief that was pervasive in the aftermath of 9/11. Some dismissed the victories achieved in dismantling of al Qaeda cells around the globe as insignificant or somehow inevitable. And our elected officials forswore our efforts to capture, hold and interrogate a handful of the known worst terrorists on the planet. Instead, out of a sense of “compassion,” the current administration’s policy has evolved into one of killing large numbers of suspected terrorists (and those unfortunate enough to be near them).

While I have no objection to the use of drones when absolutely necessary and when there is no viable option for apprehending top terror suspects, the default option now seems to be to kill them remotely. When we do so, we not only inspire many new terrorists, but just as importantly we lose the opportunity to find out what potential detainees know about the intentions of others planning terrorist attacks.

As a country we have allowed political correctness to tie our own hands and recreate a pre-9/11 atmosphere. If we are really serious about protecting American lives, shouldn’t our premier intelligence service be empowered to do all that is permissible under the law to protect the homeland?

The initial reports about the Boston bombers suggest that the two young men allegedly involved were not part of some massive plot orchestrated by al Qaeda central. But first reports are often wrong and we should not assume that they were rogue independent actors, simply because that explanation would be the most comforting. I think it likely that dead suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev received some kind of training, inspiration and perhaps direction during his trip to Dagestan last year. As I explain in Hard Measures, one of the benefits of having held a group of al Qaeda operatives at CIA black sites was the fact that we could go back to them and ask what they knew about other potential terrorists who came onto our radar.

But now, the U.S. government cannot question other recently captured terrorists about the current relationship between al Qaeda and Chechen jihadists (many of the 9/11 hijackers initially went to Afghanistan for training with the intent of going to fight in Chechnya – it was only later that bin Laden diverted them to attack the United States.)  The U.S. also cannot ask recently captured terrorists whether they have heard of Tsarnaev, whether they have seen anyone matching his description or whether they know of any of his associates.

We can’t do any of these because we don’t capture terrorists anymore. In order to avoid the challenges of detention and interrogation – and to escape the harsh judgment of human rights activists – by and large we simply kill them.


soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Joseph McCarthy

    This obscene policy of "shoot to kill terrorists" is a national disgrace and needs to be terminated once and foe all! Those who advocate the continuance of this barbareous policy are either hateful, heartless right-wing fanatics or ignorant, simple minded Tea Partiers! Let's do away with it!

    May 8, 2013 at 10:48 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Thank you, Joseph. Nothing could be closer to the truth. I'm surprised not to see more hateful, Tea Partying idiots blogging in here to cheer those monsters on. Those filthy creeps who operate them need to be imprisoned never to see the light of day ever again! This alone proves just how fair life is not!

      May 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Reply
      • wjmccartan

        Well said, Patrick. Like you said, those butchers do need to be indicted, prosecuted and put away once and for all. Those guys are truly a disgrace to this country like the SS was to Germany, these German guys were prosecuted after WW2 but the butchers in question won't be simply because they're American as if that is to be some kind of legitimate excuse!

        May 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
      • William

        I'm not necessarily for the use of drones. I see the value of the human intelligence that can be gained from capturing these people. The prospect of imprisoning them for life though bothers me in a very real way. We already have a strained prison system, mostly because of our idiotic " War on Drugs" but that is another issue, why should We the People pay for the upkeep of our enemies? Considering the cost per day in prisoner maintenance versus the cost of a single bullet, I say get the intel you need out of the guy then take him out back and very quietly put a bullet in him and bury him in an unmarked grave somewhere. I would pull the trigger myself if it meant that I would not be on the hook for the care of a man who wants nothing more than to end my life based solely on where I was born and the actions of my government. Call me ignorant if you wish, but in a country that boasts one of the highest incarceration rates in the developed world I can't see the benefit of keeping more prisoners on the tax payer dime once their usefulness as intelligence assets has expired.

        May 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
      • wjmccartan

        I like the fact that the drone program is as effective as it is, you say above that if we had these individuals in custody you would be able to gather information from them. So once in a while grab a butterfly net and go out and get a couple. The drone program doesn't have to stop. The idea that more of these terrorists are created by the drone program, the drone program doesn't need to change for that to happen. Their are thousand being created everyday in mosques, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria just to name a few. So even if the drone program would stop today there would still be thousands lining up to harm America. Simple to nail them before they leave their country. What America does will not change the crazy people, they'll still be coming. As long as that holds true then they will have to pay for their choice with their lives. If your wondering if I lose any sleep about that, not a wink.

        May 9, 2013 at 12:58 am |
      • perception

        Why all the references to tea party when it's Obama's Administration pulling the trigger? Obama loves drones! And Tea Partiers are just as dumb and scary as socialist-liberals like you, just on the opposite extreme of the normal curve.

        Where's all the moderates?

        May 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
      • GENCHEZ19

        @William,
        You don't have to put them in prison for life. Last time I checked, the death penalty is still legal and valid in USA.

        June 16, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
      • ABDELKADER EL HAMDAOUI

        During WWII the Germans bombed Coventry and London and a dozens cities and the civilians weren't collateral damage, they were the targets, same with the bombing of Berlin, Dresden and Hamburg. Hundreds of thousands civilian enemy were killed. Drones are not as effective as say ten B-52s if the job is to be done properly. Three thousand Americans plus Americans died on 9/11, it's peanuts compared to 23,000 children now dying everyday, one very five seconds from not having water or drinking polluted water. But nobody gives a toss, it's not sensational enough.

        July 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Steve

      Now I am confused.... so President Obama is a Right Wing Tea Partier?

      After all.... he has been the biggest proponent of this policy..... and as our military carries it out the left has been very quiet.

      May 10, 2013 at 11:49 am | Reply
      • John Bendall

        Libtards cannot help but to deflect blame from King Obummer. They cannot face that facts. So they must try and blame Tea Party, Its kinda funny.

        July 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
      • Chino

        The drone policy has been condoned by both the Republican and Democratic party. The party that was once dovish has been hawkish. In essence, we have one party rule. Besides social issues and healthcare, there is really no difference between the two parties. Bailouts, TARP, war, domestic surveillance, etc. They agree on so many topics. But when it comes to topics such as abortion and gay marriage which only affect a small amount of people, they go bonkers. When issues affect everyone, the populace doesn't care.

        July 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Ibrahim George

      Don't shoot to kill
      Let them grow equip and become more evil
      Till the day they come to USA and kill all of us. 9/11 is not enough we need something bigger to open our eyes

      May 11, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Reply
    • alan

      it is the policy of the obama administration.

      May 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm | Reply
    • SAWOLF

      Don't like it vote differently or emigrate. What's it like to an ineffectual bag of wind?

      May 12, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Reply
    • Lucas

      LOL Right... let the terrorists live to kill innocents another day... libtard... the only reason you're free is because of the blood spilt by freedom-loving conservatives. When the going gets tough, you libtards just burn your bras and flee to Canada.

      June 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Reply
    • GENCHEZ19

      Last time I checked, the drone policy is designed and being implemented by President Obama and I do not think that he has any links with the Tea party Movement.

      AG Holder who crafted the (il)legal justification for this policy does not see eye to eye with TP. The drone policy, which is worse than and more reprehensible than water boarding in every aspect is the making of Obama's administration.

      Is there anything you will not blame on the Republican party?

      June 16, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
    • Joe M.

      The terrorists shoot to kill our troops and innocent civilians, including muslims. So should we just shoot to annoy them?
      Shoot ping-pong balls? Shoot marshmellows? Shoot confetti?

      June 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Reply
    • Zachary

      Dismantling this policy would be a mistake. Capture should be a priority but in the event that the risk of life to our soldiers is to high drone strikes are the only rational option. For those who disagree i could provide directions to the nearest military recruitment office and im sure they would be more than happy to help you fulfill your ideals with your own blood instead of other soldiers for once.

      June 21, 2013 at 5:50 am | Reply
      • Southpaw

        I agree! "It is easy to take the high road when your blood is not on the line."

        June 26, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Nadeem Shah

      Sadly we elected Obama, so he would be the one to show us the way, no one is sympathizing with terrorists, but the rule of law, the fact that America should be the shining city on the hill, has been destroyed by this petty need for vengeance against mid to low level militants. This drone policy is killing more innocents than actual terrorists, yet the fools amongst us celebrate it without realizing the millions of martyrs its creating that would come back to haunt us one day, its hardening positions across 1.8 billion people, how is this making the US safer?

      During the 50s the US was the darling of the world, today it scores below Russia and China. What happened? the Tea party happened.

      July 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm | Reply
    • RedDog

      I hope they hit White House and Congress.

      July 23, 2013 at 11:29 am | Reply
  2. Sean B.

    I'm not sure how we inspire many new terrorists by use of drones directly. People are scared of our drones, but really the ones who claim to be inspired by the drone attacks are mostly speaking from a sense of nationalism because we violated their national boundaries. These are not the people who will blow themselves up in crowded markets. Also, I'm confident that our human intelligence officers are doing a great job keeping track of terrorist activities based on recent successes so the argument that killing rather than capturing them is losing vital intel is flawed. Terrorism, like gang activity here in the US, springs from poverty, social dejection, and a feeling of hopelessness for a better life- one does not see a drone strike then go on jihad unless their relatives were killed in it, in which case they had a high chance of becoming terrorists anyway.

    The numbers of civilians killed in these strikes is far lower than what is widely reported. The interest groups that came up with the numbers obtained them through biased, government-backed newspaper reports in Pakistan, etc., and from talking to locals who of course will exaggerate the number. Our policy certainly doesn't give us the moral high ground on face value, but there's no question that scrubbing terrorists saves innocent lives.

    May 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Reply
    • Travis

      Such is to be expected from someone like you with your obvious limitations. You sound like another dimwitted Tea Partier going gung ho on those obscene drones and the horrific butchery caused by them. This is like the Germans being gung on on the holocaust of the 1940's which I hope was not the case. In fact, at least 70% of those slaughtered by these monsters are civilians who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!

      May 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Reply
      • Sean B.

        The Tea Party is the special olympics of American politics, and you're the shortbus of trolling.

        May 8, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
      • perception

        You're crazy! How are you going to draw a parrallel between the Nazis killing Jews and Drone pilots targetting extremists (who would kill you and your family and your dog if they could)?

        May 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  3. Ferhat Balkan

    The use of armed drones is a double edged sword no matter how you slice it. On the one hand you have a platform to deliver surgical strikes at remote locations which delivers immediate results. On the other, you have civilian deaths as a result of negligence, collateral damage etc. In turn this creates a sympathy for the victims of the drone strikes. Folks who use to be pro-Western and against the Taliban or Al-Qaeda are now sympathetic to their cause. This in turn delivers more recruits to terrorists who have grown more anti-American due to drone strikes. Using drones for simple surveillance is ok, but the use of armed drones is simply wrong. The minute we start killing innocent civilians so we can get to a few terrorists is the minute when we loose touch with what makes us humane.

    May 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Reply
  4. len

    they use suicide bombers, we use drones, they could care less about collateral damage, tell me why we should be concerned about the damage drones cause. if i had my way, a massive b-52 run would flatten mecca when it was jammed packed with the rodents.

    May 9, 2013 at 8:42 am | Reply
    • Nadeem Shah

      so you equate yourself with terrorists? wonderful..... thats what we all thought, the US is a terrorist nation, thanks for confirming that.

      July 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Indeed, Obama has changed its tactics in dealing with terrorists. Drones are his weapon of choice. Targeted killings make it easy for him to deal with terrorists that can't be apprehended. No more CIA black sites abroad and criticism of enhanced interroation techniques and new detainees in Guantanamo.

    May 9, 2013 at 11:26 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      What the right-wing media doesn't mention here j. von hettlingen, is the simple fact that at least 70% of the people slaughtered by those cursed drones are civilians who have nothing to do with terrorism! This kind of ignominy needs to be outlawed once and for all at the U.N.! But then again, if that were to happen, the neocons in Washington will never abide by such a ruling!

      May 10, 2013 at 8:08 am | Reply
      • Sean B.

        Not true in the least, Patrick. Even the interest groups who compile the civilian casualty numbers, (which are most likely inflated), don't even say 70% of drone casualties are citizens. The Obama administration and its surrogates have said that the civilian casualty numbers are in the single digits each year, and I'm inclined to believe them since the Obama administration has a reputation of being forthcoming about such statistics. You seem to vindicate the right wing, tea party, and neocons of America in your posts but fail to realize the drone strikes are presided over by a reasonable, left of center American administration.

        May 10, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
      • Genchez19

        @Sean B,
        Will more than 2500 (and counting) innocent, children old men and women be a nicer number instead of percentage?

        June 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  6. Ex muslim

    Every terrorist must be killed as you see them, just kill them or they will kill us when they get chance. Pseudo Human rights groups who are supporting terrorists also shud be shot in the middle of head in the middle of road.

    May 10, 2013 at 7:08 am | Reply
    • bob123666

      Ex muslim
      Every terrorist must be killed as you see them, just kill them or they will kill us when they get chance. Pseudo Human rights groups who are supporting terrorists also shud be shot in the middle of head in the middle of road.

      First...REALLY dude? REALLY? So you say that Every terrorist must be killed. George Bush and Dick Cheney ordered the murder of 10's if not 100's of thousands of people. They are terrorists because they terrorized the people of Iraq (remember IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN did not attack The US, it was a group of idiots.
      Second...you're comment about shooting people in the middle of the road in the head strikes fear and terror...should you be killed as a terrorist?
      Third...Let's assume you kill all those people you want murdered? What will happen when someone attacks and threatens you personally? Will you take a gun and take them to the middle of the road and shoot them in the head?
      Fourth...back to the United States policy on drones. I'm not an expert and i will never purport to be one (don't be scared, i'm not smart i just use weird words sometimes). The policy of drone attacks is a terror tactic aimed at finding and destroying i mean murdering humans. According to your premise, should the people that control the drones be marked as terrorists and their superior officers be marked as terrorists for striking terror to innocent people, because you know, when a drone is coming there is fear of death. Maybe you've never experienced it, think of standing on the street on your little Schwin bike and seeing a car coming right towards you and swerving right before it splatters your little fat head onto the street making your mommy and daddy cry for the death of their child...now take that picture and think of a bomb blowing up a little boy or girls entire body that had nothing to do with jihad or terrorism or whatever you puritanical schmo's want to call it? How would you feel. You are not an ex muslim, you are an idiot and as such your words mean nothing except to stir up emotion from people that were trying to read an article. Congratulations ex muslim, you have stupidified yourself further.

      July 25, 2013 at 4:17 am | Reply
  7. Luke Weyland

    USA = #1 Terrorist in the world.

    May 10, 2013 at 10:48 am | Reply
    • godsfire

      No china is sorry good try!

      September 2, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Reply
  8. vistar hornbill

    IWhat is the likelihood of a rogue member in the drone division directing a drone into Washington?

    June 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  9. Wasi

    It is sad that no one in their comments seems to say anything about drones being judge, jury and executioner? The principles of justice should not change according to nationality of the parties involved, do they? The people being bombed by drones do not present a clear and present danger. It is simply logistically and politically expedient to kill them rather than capture them.
    Before Awlaki people thought "those rules" only applied to "foreigners", the "bad guys", now we know it applies to americans as well. We even know that the president likens this to a SWAT team going after a criminal in the US. However that analogy is flawed because the snipers wait until they sense the clear and present danger and the person is in the US and presents an imminent threat.
    Now people have lost their freedoms and are okay with the big brother listening in. America is not the land of the brave or the free. Bravery is defined as the overcoming of fear not the lack thereof. In fact the lack of fear would be considered sociapathic by the professionals.

    June 12, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • Mike

      It is a war... You don't take people to court when you are at war with them. Do you think otherwise?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Reply
      • Nadeem Shah

        said like a true ganster

        July 13, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Genchez19

      @ Wasi,
      If the policy is conceived, endorsed and executed by Obama, then it is alright. He is above criticism and knows what is best for USA. He is infinitely capable of being judge, jury and executioner. The dark ages is about on us

      June 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  10. Wasi

    @ Ex Muslim: Yes, you're right. I am Muslim. Please go ahead. That will allow you to live free of fear perhaps. And you already seem to have no concience so you fit the profile of those without fear a.k.a. sociopaths or pehaps psychopaths. It matters not. This live is short and death comes to us all. What defines us is not what we profess with our toungues but what we do. I have left the US temporarily but I still love my country whether anyone here on this website stands up for the truth or not. I can only try to influence the opinion of those of my countrymen and women who still have the decency to think rationally and uphold that what is good and join them in it. Maybe in time we will be free again. Until then I live elsewhere.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:09 am | Reply
  11. Karl Drobnic

    Those who use drones don't have to back their beliefs by putting their bodies in the line of fire. While it may cause some mental anguish, it doesn't require taking one's cause into the streets and facing dissent. As Ike said: “Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels — men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower Ike would want us to think long and hard about the growing lesion on dissent that automation is spreading. How do we separate dissent from subversion?

    June 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Reply
    • Joe M.

      During World War II, the US Forces in Europe, under Eisenhower experimented with the first unmanned flying bombs by packing explosives into B-17 bombers and flying them toward enemy targets. Unfortunately, the technology was not well developed and was abandoned. But now the technology is well developed, beautifully developed and cause dramatically fewer casualties than those manned bombers of World War II with their gravity bombs.

      June 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Reply
      • Karl Drobnic

        There are also dramatically fewer casualties when the protagonist has to risk his/her own life and limb. It brings into play the consideration, "Maybe I don't really want to do this."

        June 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
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  13. Zachary

    Dismantling this policy would be a mistake. Capture should be a priority but in the event that the risk of life to our soldiers is too high drone strikes are the only rational option. For those who disagree i could provide directions to the nearest military recruitment office and im sure they would be more than happy to help you fulfill your ideals with your own blood instead of the blood of other soldiers for once. It is easy to take the high road when your blood is not on the line.

    June 21, 2013 at 5:53 am | Reply
  14. Zachary

    As for civilian casualties, remember there is a price in blood that must always be paid when entering a conflict. It will be paid by the blood of our soldiers or the blood of our enemies and yes the citizens of that nation. Remember the soldiers do not get the option to say yes or no when going to war. And as for myself i would sacrifice a village of innocents to save even one American soldiers life. It is easy to take the high road when your blood is not on the line.

    June 21, 2013 at 6:00 am | Reply
  15. henry2000

    When a weapon kills terrorists then it must be a good weapon.

    July 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Reply
    • Ian Snyder

      there is no such thing as a good weapon. i think the term you are looking for is an effective weapon

      July 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  16. popseal

    The comments here illustrate how dangerously divided America really is. The language is crude and unthinking. The 'presented opinions' are uninformed and short sighted. In the history of warfare there has never been a good option. Only a coward is willing to surrender rather than fight against manifest evil. The Predator drone program kills far fewer 'innocents' than a land war or even a spec'ops' incursion. Terrorist are fearful of the sound of those flying lawn mowers (that's what the MQ1 sound like). My favorite is the MQ9 because it drops bombs from so high you can't find it with a telescope if you know where to look. A side benefit is that the program reveals those that hate America as they are the ones that the law mowers above our enemies.

    July 4, 2013 at 6:55 am | Reply
  17. Worried American

    To those people who think the drones are great to kill terriorsts, what will you think when the drones come home? All militery technology will be used on American soil in time by the police or those of wealth. The danger as Wasi said is "drones being judge, jury and executioner"; and I belive some one also brought up the possible of these machines being hacked and sent right back to Washington. Or here's a fun idea what about when other countries with "opposing polices" build drones for them selves?
    Modern War fare, ie since WW2, has taken more civilian lives with each strike, conflict or what ever Congress desides to call it. No one here seems to care that about the civilians since they are not Americans, all they care about is that they are forigners or terrorists, or families of terriosts. I would like to point out that terriorism is such a loose term that by definition, the brave men who fought the Bristish to make the US nation a possibilty were by all sense terriorists.

    July 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  18. E. Anders

    Not too long ago, in a very hot, very dry, and very dusty place, one day, I had a conversation with someone who was somewhat distressed. He said, in a very loud and determined voice, "You can't kill them all!" I was somewhat taken aback, because, technically speaking, you can kill them all.

    The fact is, you don't have to kill them all, but you have to kill enough. There is a rather good amount of evidence to support that assertion. Drone strikes are proven effective. Personally, I think the targeting could be much better and the payloads much smaller. In fact, the smaller the better. I don't believe you even have to kill the target every time. You just have to make them aware that you can, anytime, anywhere, regardless; with the aim of influencing their behavior. After all, it is the behavior, their political behavior, we want to change, and not any morbid desire to end lives.That is not good counter-insurgency, nor is it good counter-terrorism. In the long run, it is counter-productive. Not a lecture. Just an observation.

    July 6, 2013 at 9:20 am | Reply
  19. Ian Snyder

    The CIA took almost 15 years to catch and kill Bin Laden. President Clinton and President Bush both had opportunities to neutralize him in the years previous to 9/11. It took 10 years to get justice for 9/11, and 3 wars! I for one, think the CIA quietly goes about doing nothing. Do not be too quick to praise the CIA, because they let us down time and time again.

    July 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Reply
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    July 10, 2013 at 1:43 am | Reply
  21. shinwari

    drones are killing innocents mostly. a master student of university has lost all his family while he was in university.why .I want to see the day when american public will justify the use of this heinous predator on their own land .women and children are innocents.the legitimacy of crime against humanity should be condemn whether by state or by non state actor.
    lets not to close our eyes and uphold what the founding fathers said.about liberty democracy and human right.if some one believe this they will never justify the use of drones.

    July 11, 2013 at 7:11 am | Reply
    • Nadeem Shah

      to them other people are not human, they forgot that somewhere and only Americans are human, especially white Americans.

      July 13, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  22. Nadeem Shah

    When you violate others sovereignty, except yours to be violated sooner or later....oh btw Hi NSA....have some donuts on me.

    July 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  23. Nadeem Shah

    If drones are so good, why dont you Americans use them against criminals in your own cities? Start with Los Angeles and Detroit and Chicago where gangs proliferate, they are just as dangerous to Americans if not more than Al Qaeda, whats the diff?

    July 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Reply
    • bob123666

      because that would be too easy Nadeem. It wouldn't cost the military too much money so there would be no point in developing further advanced technology to fight against terrorists. People sometimes forget what is at the root of terrorism–to strike fear and terror. If that is the case, Homeland Security, NSA, Military, some bad police officers, the bully neighbor, the cab driver, the gangs, the dog that barks at you, the pigeon that cr@ps on your car are all terrorists. I say it lightly here but its very serious. The drones could and should be used to patrol the borders of Mexico and the US as well as the "other" border between Canada...remember there's no cheap Mexican labor coming from there...so no point huh. The whole idea of the drone program is to kill people in other countries. Not recon, not studying the environment, just death. I would love to take everyone that's voted for the drone program and let them lose in a desert. Then as they stand around debating which way to go, I want a fleet of drones to show up and put them in their targets ONLY so they feel what its like throughout the world when they do this to people that are not from their own country.

      July 25, 2013 at 2:57 am | Reply
  24. bob123666

    I wrote this as a response to another person but it stands on its own:

    It wouldn't cost the military too much money so there would be no point in developing further advanced technology to fight against terrorists. People sometimes forget what is at the root of terrorism–to strike fear and terror. If that is the case, Homeland Security, NSA, Military, some bad police officers, the bully neighbor, the cab driver, the gangs, the dog that barks at you, the pigeon that cr@ps on your car are all terrorists. I say it lightly here but its very serious. The drones could and should be used to patrol the borders of Mexico and the US as well as the "other" border between Canada...remember there's no cheap Mexican labor coming from there...so no point huh. The whole idea of the drone program is to kill people in other countries. Not recon, not studying the environment, just death. I would love to take everyone that's voted for the drone program and let them lose in a desert. Then as they stand around debating which way to go, I want a fleet of drones to show up and put them in their targets ONLY so they feel what its like throughout the world when they do this to people that are not from their own country.

    July 25, 2013 at 3:00 am | Reply
  25. bob123666

    i love you jp.

    July 25, 2013 at 3:47 am | Reply
  26. globeharmony

    Shameful and lawless.

    July 27, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  27. DR STEVE RAMSEY- CANADA

    IRAQ TAUGHT US NOTHING....NORI AL HALEKI AL KALB, TOOK OVER THE POWER BY FORCE AFTER WE ALL THE MAJORITY VOTED FOR DOCTOR AYAD ALAWI HE WON AND THEN NORI AL HALEKI MAKE A COUP AND TOOK OVER BY THE HELP OF IRAN UNDER THE USA NOSE.....USA ARE INTERESTED IN OIL NOT CHANGING PEOPLE.....NORI AL HALEKI IS SHIIA IRANIAN THUG WHO KILLED MANY PEOPLE AND ORDERED THE KILLING OF CIVILIANS WHO WERE DEMONSTRATING PEACEFULLY MORE THAN 300 MACHINED GUNNED AND NOTHING WAS MENTIONED IN CNN!!! ALMALEKI STILL IN POWER and he is helping hezbollah sending iraqi oil free to syria and sending money and iranians weapons from russia to syria to kill more people , they killed more than 143000 sunni kurds women and children so far. those murderers thugs must be brought to justice and hungered lin EID AL FITR....IRAN IS EVIL SHIIA ARE EVIL, ALL TERRORISTS HELPING HEZBOLLAH THE WELL KNOWN TERRORISTS ORGANIZATION.

    August 8, 2013 at 1:10 am | Reply
  28. godsfire

    What if the terrorists lived above us?

    September 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  29. Unga Ramires

    It appears that the issue is not the fact that these drones are dangerous. It seems to be of the "people" aiming them. Of course other countries and many supporter of said counties are upset... No more than we would be when "they" (who ever is the first) to fly drones over the states.
    As it is we are in a new kind of war..... America has the better tech. and they have will, and determination. As in war we are not flying men to the field but Machine...... There will ALWAYS be unexpected or uncontrolled damage. Sympathies to those who have fallen in innocents, and for those who are about to die for thier beliefs I salute you

    April 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Reply
  30. shamus

    whether you agree with the drone warfare or not, one thing is certain, the terrorists are well aware of its potency, and its effectiveness, there is however collateral damage that has to be curtailed, you can't stop all of it, but a certain amount of collateral damage is going to happen, and its the price of waging war on terror.

    May 2, 2014 at 7:41 am | Reply

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