Game of Drones

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, have crept into modern warfare as quietly as the airborne killing machines themselves and, on the whole, media reporting on them has been just as subdued.

Last week, the veil of silence was finally lifted when two of the most important and influential newspapers in the United States – the New York Times and the Washington Post – ran stories on a secret airbase in Saudi Arabia from which the US military has operated its ‘drone war’ campaign over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen for the past two years.

However, as the story broke, it also came to light that reporters at both newspapers had known about the base long before the story went to print. They had agreed to conceal newsworthy information at the request of the US intelligence establishment, on the basis that reporting the truth would have harmed American national security interests.

The complicity of journalists with government officials to keep the base a secret has been justified on grounds of national security but the issue has raised troubling questions of when military secrets – as defined by the government – pull rank on the public duty of the fourth estate to inform.


  1. TMC

    Targeted killings: OK if Obama does it?

    Civil libertarians have worried that some of President Obama’s comparatively hawkish national security policies are silencing “liberal” Democrats who would have opposed such measures under President Bush or another Republican. Now there’s new evidence that Obama’s support for such policies isn’t just silencing them – it’s winning them over.

    That’s the finding of new research by Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler, who studies what he calls the “racialization” of political issues in the age of Obama: mainly, the way voters’ attitudes about race can make them more or less likely to support policies once they know those policies are supported by Obama. Last year he made headlines with an American Journal of Political Science article about the way racial attitudes shaped opinions on the Affordable Care Act. [..]

    In a YouGov poll of 1,000 voters last August, Tesler found significantly more support for targeted killing of suspected terrorists among white “racial liberals” (i.e., those liberal on issues of race) and African-Americans when they were told that Obama supported such a policy than when they were not told it was the president’s policy. Only 27 percent of white racial liberals in a control group supported the targeted killing policy, but that jumped to 48 percent among such voters who were told Obama had conducted such targeted killings (which Tesler refers to as the “Obama cue”). He found a similar difference among African-Americans, but cautions that the sample size, of 60 in a control group and another 60 who were given the “Obama cue,” is small. “We can be pretty confident that blacks are more supportive when given the Obama cue, but not at all confident about how precisely large that difference is,” he told me via email.

    White “racial conservatives” were more likely than white racial liberals to support the targeted killing policy overall, and Obama’s support for it didn’t affect their opinion, as it had on issues like healthcare reform. You can see the results in the graphs below (more explanation comes later).

    A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves ~Edward R. Morrow~

  2. mishima

    Because a Democratic President is and or has expanded the program not many liberials are complaning even though it’s a violation of those peoples Civil and Constitutional Rights.

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