The Legal and Ethical Case Against Drones

Vicki Divoll, a former general counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and former deputy legal adviser to the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, and Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, talk to Bill Moyers about legal, ethical and judicial issues involved in U.S. unmanned drone attacks and whom they target. Warren and Divoll express their concern over U.S. citizens placed on the “hit list,” as well as an alarming lack of policy disclosure by the government.

“There’s plenty of evidence that lots of people are suspected of doing lots of things,” Divoll tells Bill. “That doesn’t mean we [should] shoot them from the sky. Warren notes, “There’s no judicial oversight for how they determine who they’re going to kill and who they don’t want to kill.”

Watch Bill’s full conversation with Vicki Divoll and Vincent Warren full conversation.

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  • Anonymous

    I have such a hope this program will give momentum to a different American collective conversation on this topic.

    I have been watching the unfolding of a coordinated public infomercial here in the U.S. that could be titled “why drones?” Last week Jon Stewart had a fawning interview with MIT professor and former fighter pilot Missy Cummings on the Daily Show as she disputed the popular dystopian vision of drone warfare. Then the same pretty, but not too pretty, brilliant woman was featured in a PBS Nova Special last week as well.

    While the U.N. investigation is initiated, it appears we’ve essentially got the All-American woman being used by the corporate/political infrastructure of this country sell the electorate on the idea of drones as helpful, not harmful in ways we should worry ourselves about. And we the electorate are all to willing to absorb the message without question.

    As PBS noted at the airing of the Nova Special on the rise of drones – the program had received funding from the David H. Koch Foundation for Science. It also received “additional funding” from Lockheed Martin, which on its face looks like a violation of PBS’ underwriting guidelines.

    What has me doing a double take here is how easily the American public’s gullibility reveals its most vulnerable side. We are allowing the human cost of this technology to be pushed to the margins in favor of the discussion that focuses instead on “gee whiz look at the technology we’ve employed! Aren’t we are awesome!”

    At what point will we realize the bully that killed Trayvon Martin, the psychopath who killed all those children in Newton – is the very same role we Americans are allowing the U.S. to play in the lives of many many citizens in countries we are not even at war with. And drones are facilitating that perpetual war, that perpetual psychopathic action. It is us Americans that are feared with our drones that can strike at any time. It is us who are the terrorists.

    Let’s change this. Let’s look deeper than the technology. Let’s take Bill Moyers lead on this and have a collective conversation that isn’t dictated by a PR campaign funded by the Koch Brothers or Lockheed Martin…but by humans, global citizens, who value life, not just our children and our future, but their children, and their future….because after all, it is all OUR future.

  • Ty Barto

    re:@ 0:30-0:51 please mention that we are at war with al-qaeda

  • Nigel Dandridge-Perry

    When someone attempts to kill you or your family then your have a right to respond with deadly force. However when someone says that they want to or will kill you or your family then One really has to observe that it is a realistic possibility and imminent in order to prevent their action. People say many things in anger and hatred but that is not giving you a right to pre empt a possibility . If I had the right to eliminate everyone who has expressed their desire that I be dead there would be a trail across the world of corpses. Unacceptable.

  • William Tatum

    You can’t be at war with a group, war has a legal definition which preculdes being at war with an idea or single group. War can only be declared by Congress on some other Nation state.

    The United States is not at war with Al-qaeda.

  • Anonymous

    The use of drones seems to be a semi secret activity being conducted by our government. Everyone, including our citizens and citizens of places we target, knows drones are being used, but the close-to-the-vest manner that activity is being treated by the governemt is reminiscent of the proverbial elephant in the living room no one wants to admit is there.

  • Randy Lockdall

    Can you know-fully take and innocent life and suffer no guilt? And just who is to blame if no one accepts the responsibility for the innocent who’ve been chosen to die.

    “But they whose guilt within their bosoms lie Imagine every eye beholds their blame” William Shakespeare

    No matter how we discuss our Drone Diplomacy it stands on Shaky Ground for the whole world to see.

  • us citizen

    Drones strikes feels immoral.