Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


 Here is an ethical issue that is new to the Bush and more to the Obama administrations-- the use of drones.

We saw the drones being trained when we drove south this spring. In Nevada, they were training alongside the freeway with landings and flying around-- hopefully not looking for terrorists.

I have to say it was a little eerie as when they come straight at you, they are nearly invisible in sunlight. We saw them best alongside the road over their field. I didn't photograph them as I wasn't sure it was okay and sure didn't want to get targeted myself for being investigated.

This whole idea of satellites that can look down and help them pinpoint a kill from someone flying them thousands of miles away, well it's a little dicey to think about. On the other hand, we'd prefer to risk a human life when the target is a well known terrorist? but don't you have to add-- if they are?

Then there is what the right brought up and had been in the NY Times-- the supposed inside leaks regarding them. My question would be-- how could it be classified? How could it be hidden? We saw them in Nevada. Where they are being used as a weapon of war is in other countries where they obviously will be discussing and writing about what they have seen happen, about those being killed. The idea that only a leak from the White House would tell anybody seems totally nuts to me.

Jon Stewart had a funny take on it... if you can call this sort of thing funny. The video is worth watching but there is an article there too.

It is true that this is an area of ethics that we as a country need to talk about. But the leak is the issue? Seriously? To Republicans it's all to Obama's credit to do this. Not so with Democrats; so any leak isn't automatically to his benefit. Republicans obviously don't get this!


Annie said...

Apparently the purpose of drone technology is to kill. It is a hop skip and a jump from killing "really bad people" to killing not-so-bad people, to killing ordinary people, who may be neither good nor bad. It is mind boggling that we develop this technology in the interest of killing people rather than saving people (why not drones that rescue lost hikers or that kill cancer cells?). It is mind boggling that there was never any discussion of the pros and cons or moral or ethical issues involved in such technology. It was just done.

It is mind boggling that our governments think this is OK.

Rain Trueax said...

I saw another article after I wrote this and there are 64 drone bases in the United States. They are going to (or already depending where you read it) use them as surveillance and border patrol (without killing I presume).

This country has often given the military carte blanche where it comes to such things.
110 potential Drone bases on US soil

Drone bases on US soil

It seems at the least that we as Americans should be thinking and talking about this, about the ethics. It's ironic how if it's 'your' side, people often think it's safe. In the hands of the 'other' side, not so much. This is an escalating technology that has barely been discussed. It has all been seen as a win win. Is it?

Ingineer66 said...

If we would have took Sadam and his sons out with drone attacks, we could have saved a lot of lives. Ours and theirs.

Many times those drones are shooting missiles at something that soldiers or CIA operators are looking at in person. But I tend tend to agree with Annie, where does the slippery slope end? I am a proponent of the death penalty and it should be applied reasonably soon after the conviction, not 10 to 20 years later. But I also think it should be a difficult thing to do, such as hanging or electric chair. It should be horrible and not milk toast like lethal injection. If we make it too easy to kill someone, then eventually we will see it for lessor offenses. Why not for too many parking tickets, it is painless and simple.

Anyway sorry for the sort of off topic dissertation.

The Border Patrol has drones, mostly because the Congressmen that represent the areas where they are built force them on the Border Patrol. They don't have enough officers to catch all the people they can see crossing on their cameras from Obama's electronic fence. They definitely won't have enough when they take more money and put it in to more drones.

Rain Trueax said...

Good comments and not off topic at all, ingineer. It's an extension of where this goes as well as from where it comes. From what I have heard on the border, there are less coming across due to job problems in the US. When we were down there, we saw no sign of illegals (and we had before) but we saw the border patrol and forest service several times. It's been well patrolled on the ground. One problem has been the wilderness areas where Americans can't take vehicles but the illegal entrants certainly can do what they want. Drones would get around that. I still find it makes me uncomfortable that it would be used that way as it's not far from that to patrolling where I live with them to find pot fields. now they use helicopters which cost more and probably are less effective. It's not that I'd mind them getting the pot fields but what else might the drones be photographing? It just seems dicey to me that if we approve it for one thing, it'll expand and end up like Revelations predicted where they can demand a code on our skin to use to keep track of us. Isn't that worrisome to both parties?

Rain Trueax said...

Legalizing pot would cut down on some of that illegal traffic...

Rubye Jack said...

Hmmm, all of it is scary to me.
I saw on the news yesterday that they're still sending up space shuttles but they're top secret now.

As for immigrants, I doubt that they would come if it were not for people giving them jobs and if we simply legalized drugs. I really don't think drug use would be any worse with legal drugs than it is now.

Anonymous said...

Please join SDAA (Stop Drones Across America).

Tabor said...

I live near an air base that is also supposed to have drones, but I doubt I would ever see anything as their security is pretty tight.

Ingineer66 said...

Rubye what they just landed in California looks like a space shuttle but it is much smaller and is also a drone. What it is doing is a secret (sort of) but the fact that they exist is not.

Ingineer66 said...

I am pretty sure I have seen the Global Hawk drone doing touch ad go's at our local airport. We have other military planes do that here sometimes for training.

Anonymous said...

It is the old story of evolution: We evolved to fight for survival. Cooperation seems foreign to our DNA for the most part. Unfortunately, you and I are wise (oh, yes!)...but...we can't force (there's that "fight" word) others to be wise. 'Tis the human conundrum.
Cop Car

Hattie said...

This is really scary. These things are cheap. It's not only our country that is investing in this technology, either. It's a fairly cheap and risk free way to kill people.

Taradharma said...

My former father in law was a weapons designer his entire adult life. I was horrified when I found out, asked him (quite boldly) how he could do this kind of work, and he had no problem with it. I was shocked way back then (1979) but no more. Look at the history of weapons development over the course of human history. Look at the development of devices to torture and kill. To me, the drones are merely an extension of this. Any weapon can used to kill innocents. It is always a horrific crime to do so. But I do appreciate (if one can) the surgical precision of drones killing 'the bad guys.' There ARE bad guys. And they would kill us if possible, and they have. It's a stinking dirty world, it is. And yes, we should be talking about it as a country, but I doubt that we will. We hand over this dirty business to others so we don't have to think about it.