On this Memorial Day, we examine the role of unmanned aircraft in the war in Afghanistan. Advances in technology allow planes to be flown without any human pilot inside them, instead the pilot is located on the ground below or even half a world away, connected by satellite. Those planes can perform surveillance missions or even drop bombs and shoot missiles.
This week, UN official Philip Alston is expected to deliver a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for these aircraft to be operated exclusively by the military when using “life and death power”, meaning attack missions. Currently, the aircraft are sometimes operated by the CIA or CIA contractors, who are civilian personnel. It’s an issue that can have major consequences for the future of war efforts in America and around the world. We speak to Noah Schactman who writes the Danger Room blog for Wired.com about the technology in these planes. We also interview Gary Solis, who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University. Solis is also an adjunct professor at West Point and a 28-year veteran of the Marine Corps.
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