Drones, Petraeus and my neighbors

Drones are a new tool of war. While they keep Americans safe in the shelter of headquarters somewhere, you have to admit, they seem a little unfair(?), distasteful(?), uncomfortable(?)…something.

If terrorists refuse to abide by the rules of war, I am ok with using drones, but not without a little sickness in my stomach.

David Petraeus is now the head of the CIA and will be going up to testify before congress on some of their complaints. Here are some quotes from the story which is worth a read.

Some also complain that Petraeus has failed to adequately explain why the pace of CIA drone missile attacks in Pakistan has dropped since he took over the spy service in September.


Some officials close to the agency praise major espionage operations he has approved but say he has clashed with senior officers at the counter-terrorism center, a powerful fiefdom inside the agency that helps run the covert drone war.

Those officers are frustrated by the drop-off in drone strikes in Pakistan, including an undeclared two-month moratorium that ended Jan. 11, according to several current and former U.S. officials. In interviews, one member of Congress and four senior aides from the House and Senate committees said they were upset as well.


The CIA has launched 17 drone strikes in Pakistan since Petraeus took over last September, including three this month, according to the New America Foundation, a think tank that tracks reported attacks. That was down from an average of two a week under Panetta, who authorized 215 drone attacks in just over two years.

But critics in the CIA’s counter-terrorism center have told allies on Capitol Hill that the fall-off has reduced pressure on Al Qaeda.

1) Shouldn’t drones be used to kill actual targets and not just to “pressure” Al Qaeda?
2) How can Congresspeople complain about the number of drone strikes without knowing the number of enemy sitings by drones?
3) While understanding that I don’t much care about Pakistani feelings, I would be curious if fewer drone strikes equated to more help on the ground, but actual Pakistan experience is not part of the story at all.

My neighbors deal drugs. I know it, the police know it, the rest of the neighborhood knows it. Let’s say that we decided to get serious with the war on drugs and the police started sweeping up all who were involved with these people in mass arrests. No trials, just imprisonment. (no not drone death) I would be a sweepee as I interact with these folks just like with my other neighbors. (ok – in all honesty I’m a hermit, but while taking out the trash or weeding the garden we share pleasantries)

That’s what I feel about drones. The fewer that are needed, the better off we are. They have a place, but just because they have been reduced does not make me question the leadership of someone like David Petraeus.