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Armed Drones Becoming the Norm? At the Crossroads of Robotic Warfare
We are at a critical crossroads in this new era of robotic warfare. In the global war on terror, remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones, make it possible to strike almost anywhere from the comfort of a base close to home. The use of drones has been escalating under the Obama Administration and now includes attacks in countries with which the United States is not officially at war. Drones are expected to be used widely in the United States beginning as early as 2015.
There is great secrecy surrounding the use of drones. The public has not had access to documents that provide legal justification for drone killings or outline the guidelines for decisions on who is targeted. Strikes are largely coordinated covertly by the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command, JSOC, an arm of the military that carries out high-security activities. Nor has the government provided information on the number of killings, how many are civilian deaths and where they occur. Instead, tracking groups try to fill that void with estimates - as The Bureau of Investigative Journalism does in their Naming the Dead project.