Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Drones & Suarez's Kill Decision

Drones have frequently been in the news over the last year, and their increasing use by the U.S. military is a contentious issue in American politics.  Last week, Senator Paul's filibuster brought the drone issue to a head.  Here are the highlights from the relevant BBC article, "Senator Rand Paul's drone filibuster delays CIA nomination:"
A Republican US senator has delayed the nomination of a new CIA chief over questions about the possible use of drones against Americans. Senator Rand Paul spoke without a pause for nearly 13 hours, in a tactic known as a filibuster, before yielding the floor... Sen Paul - a critic of the use of drones - demanded a pledge from either President Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder that drones would not be used in the US to kill terror suspects who are US citizens... The Kentucky senator said he was "alarmed" by how difficult it had been to get President Barack Obama's administration to clearly define what qualifies as a legitimate target of a drone strike. "No president has the right to say he is judge, jury and executioner,'' Sen Paul said, adding he would end the filibuster if the White House clarified no such attack would happen on US soil.
For a novel on drones, try Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez:
Unmanned weaponized drones already exist—they’re widely used by America in our war efforts in the Middle East. In Kill Decision, bestselling author Daniel Suarez takes that fact and the real science behind it one step further, with frightening results. Linda McKinney is a myrmecologist, a scientist who studies the social structure of ants. Her academic career has left her entirely unprepared for the day her sophisticated research is conscripted by unknown forces to help run an unmanned—and thanks to her research, automated—drone army. Odin is the secretive Special Ops soldier with a unique insight into the faceless enemy who has begun to attack the American homeland with drones programmed to seek, identify, and execute targets without human intervention. Together, McKinney and Odin must slow this advance long enough for the world to recognize its destructive power, because for thousands of years the “kill decision” during battle has remained in the hands of humans—and off-loading that responsibility to machines will bring unintended, possibly irreversible, consequences.

UPDATE:  there are some longer reviews of Kill Decision over at the Daqri and ZenPundit blogs.

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