Ground All Drones is a committee of Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) created to address the use of drones, particularly armed drones. Drones are developed worldwide, not only by the U.S. but by other nations as well. In the U.S.unarmed surveillance drones could be used to spy on citizens, a clear violation of our Fourth Amendment Rights. The current focus of this committee is on the use of weaponized drones.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Time for Congress to build a better drone policy

By Keith Ellison,
Published: Sunday January 13, 2013 
Washington Post

Keith Ellison, a Democrat, represents Minnesota's 5th District in the U.S.
House and is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

An unmanned U.S. aerial vehicle - or drone - reportedly killed eight people
in rural Pakistan last week, bringing the estimated death toll from drone
strikes in Pakistan this year to 35. As the frequency of drone strikes s
pikes again, some questions must be asked: How many of those targeted
were terrorists? Were any children harmed? And what is the standard of
evidence to carry out these attacks? The United States has to provide answers,
 and Congress has a critical role to play.

The heart of the problem is that our technological capability has far
surpassed our policy. As things stand, the executive branch exercises
unilateral authority over drone strikes against terrorists abroad. In some
cases, President Obama approves each strike himself through "kill lists."
While the president should be commended for creating explicit rules for the
use of drones, unilateral kill lists are unseemly and fraught with hazards.

When asked about the drone program in October during an interview on the
"The Daily Show," the president said, "One of the things we've got to do is
put a legal architecture in place, and we need congressional help in order
to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in, but any president's
reined in terms of some of the decisions that we're making." It's time to
put words into action.

Weaponized drones have produced results. They have eliminated 22 of
al-Qaeda's top 30 leaders and just last week took out a Taliban leader.
Critically, they lessen the need to send our troops into harm's way,
reducing the number of U.S. casualties.

Yet the costs of drone strikes have been ignored or inadequately
acknowledged. The number of innocent civilian casualties may be greater than
people realize. A (Living Under Drones) recent study by
human rights experts at Stanford Law School and the New York University
School of Law found that the number of innocent civilians killed by U.S.
drone strikes is much higher than what the U.S. government has reported:
approximately 700 since 2004, including almost 200 children. This is

Another cost is how drone strikes are shaping views of the United States
around the world. You might develop a negative attitude toward the United
States if your only perception of it is a foreign aircraft buzzing over your
house that occasionally fires missiles into your neighborhood. In Pakistan,
where 95 percent of U.S. drone strikes have occurred, people familiar with
them overwhelmingly express disapproval, according to Pew polling from June and
believe they kill too many innocent people (94 percent). Drone strikes may
well contribute to the extremism and terrorism the United States seeks to

U.S. drone use has also lowered the threshold for the use of lethal force in
foreign countries. Would we fire so many missiles into Pakistan, Yemen and
Somalia if doing so required sending U.S. troops into harm's way? Our drone
policy must be guided by more than capability. It must be guided by respect
for noncombatants, necessity and urgency.

It is Congress's responsibility to exercise oversight and craft policies
that govern the use of lethal force. But lawmakers have yet to hold a single
hearing examining U.S. drone policy. Any rules must provide adequate
transparency, respect the rule of law, conform with international standards
and prudently advance U.S. national security over the long term.

In codifying a legal framework to guide executive action on drone strikes,
Congress should consider these steps:

First, we must do more to avoid innocent civilian casualties. The Geneva
Conventions, which have governed the rules of war since World War II,
distinguish between combatants and noncombatants in the conduct of
hostilities and state that civilian casualties are not acceptable except in
cases of demonstrated military necessity. This is the standard we must

Second, Congress must require an independent judicial review of any
executive-branch "kill list." The U.S. legal system is based on the
principle that one branch of government should not have absolute authority.
Congress should object to that concentration of power, especially when it
may be used against U.S. citizens. A process of judicial review would
diffuse executive power and provide a mechanism for greater oversight.

Third, the United States must collaborate with the international community
to develop a widely accepted set of legal standards. No country - not even
our allies - accepts the U.S. legal justification for targeted killings. Our
justification must rest on the concept of self-defense, which would allow
the United States to protect itself against any imminent threat. Any broader
criteria would create the opportunity for abuse and set a dangerous standard
for other countries to follow, which could harm long-term U.S. security

The United States will not always enjoy a monopoly on sophisticated drone
technology. The Iranian-made drone that Hezbollah recently flew over Israel
should compel us to think about the far-reaching implications of current
policy. A just, internationally accepted protocol on the use of drones in
warfare is needed. By creating and abiding by our own set of reasonable
standards, the United States will demonstrate to the world that we believe
in the rule of law.