US to downsize drones amid growing outcry over civilian casualties
Responding to outcry over civilian casualties, the Pentagon is preparing to deploy a new generation of drones the size of model planes, with miniscule warheads that can allegedly be delivered with pinpoint accuracy. The Predator and Reaper drones now in use typically carry 100-pound laser-guided Hellfire missiles or 500-pound GPS-guided "smart bombs" that can reduce buildings to smoldering rubble. The new Switchblade drone weighs less than six pounds and are supposedly designed to kill a sniper on a rooftop without destroying the building. (LAT, June 11) The announcement comes days after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on a visit to Pakistan said: "Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law. The principle of distinction and proportionality and ensuring accountability for any failure to comply with international law is also difficult when drone attacks are conducted outside the military chain of command and beyond effective and transparent mechanisms of civilian or military control... I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human rights violations." (AFP, June 7)
See our last post on the drone wars.