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There is growing evidence from across the world that this world’s largest mass killer could be contained: in the last three years, more than 2,000 people have been killed by drones – in the US, Japan, and the UK. The US, in particular, is increasingly confident in its arsenal of armed drones. Now, a new documentary investigates why they are being used in such a wide range of circumstances. Its producer, Dan Ellsberg, is in New York to speak to military officers of the three countries involved.
“Most Americans think of a drone strike as something that happens in the desert somewhere in Afghanistan or Yemen. But we’re not just killing innocent people,” says Ellsberg, a former army intelligence officer with a doctorate in psychology. “We’re striking people who are actively hostile to us, and if we go with the assumption that they are al-Qaida, they will eventually be killed too….There is a lot of good intelligence coming out of all the drones. But there are also very bad people on both sides.”
But where is all this intelligence coming from? Ellsberg says that the US and its allies’ secret drone war is governed by a secret code used by its intelligence officers. “I got the code by looking for other people who had found the same code.”
“It’s not about ‘Oh, you can’t tell us how to do it’. It’s not about you want to get it right, it’s about ‘I’m going to kill a bunch of people to protect everyone else. That’s my business’.”
In 2006, US President George Bush declared a ‘new form of warfare’ in Iraq in order to win the hearts and minds of soldiers and civilians. However, that vision has largely failed. During the Bush years, there were tens of thousands of civilian deaths, many of them in the form both of drone missile attacks, which killed innocent people, and special operations actions, where US citizens are killed without due process. Many people have criticised these wars from the right, and they are not just on target. Since then, their targets have expanded, and in many cases, their very existence, is under attack. Now at least a fifth of the people killed in the US have been killed by drones, and their tactics have been increasingly aggressive.
Ellsberg, who has been working on this film for three and a half years under the auspices of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, explains why the US may
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