Congress Passes Top Secret Law Regarding Drones

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One of the hard-learned lessons of 9/11 was that governmental agencies work better when they work together. Although, rather than developing a fellowship or a joint strategy of cooperation, what many U.S. agencies have done is become redundant. Case in point, the much-embattled U.S. drone program is the child of both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, and will be for some time if Congress has anything to say about it.

President Obama recently proposed consolidating the drone program within the Pentagon, but according to The Atlantic, Congress has inserted a measure into a top secret annex to the recently-passed federal budget that would block this move. CIA director John Brennan also supports moving the drone program to the Pentagon as part of his plan to reduce the CIA’s increased involvement in paramilitary operations post-9/11 and back into the realm of intelligence-gathering and analysis.

Drones have been a source of controversy, especially as of late, because with this technology the U.S. can attack someone anywhere in the world at any time risking no blood and only some treasure. The main criticism—one that can be levied at any war effort—is the collateral damage of these attacks, i.e. civilian casualties. The exact numbers are unclear. A study released by the British Bureau of Investigative Journalism says that U.S. drones killed less than five civilians in Pakistan in 2013, although critics suggest the U.S. is not being truthful with its numbers.

As of March 7, 2013 there had been between 410-519 drone strikes since September 11, 2001, which had killed an estimated 2,500-3,000 people. The total number of civilians killed in drone strikes is just north of ten percent, somewhere between 276-368. Considering the high civilian casualty rate in Iraq and Afghanistan where ground troops are involved drones may actually be the kinder option. So the question remains who best sits at the joystick: the CIA or the Pentagon? If Congress gets its way, it may be both.