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U.S. Use of Drones

Moral, Legal, or Effective?

Date of Event: March 13, 2013

About the Speakers:

David ColeDavid Cole is professor of law at Georgetown University. He has published seven books including "The Torture Memos: Rationalizing the Unthinkable" in 2009 and "Less Safe, Less Free: The Failure of Preemption in the War on Terrorism" in 2007. He is the legal affairs correspondent for The Nation, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."


Avery PlawAvery Plaw is associate professor of political science at UMass Dartmouth. He is the author of "Targeting Terrorists: A License to Kill?" published in 2008, and editor of "The Metamorphosis of War" in 2012. He is also a co-creator of the UMass DRONE Targeted Killing Database, an online resource that tracks casualties by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.


Gregory JohnsenGregory Johnsen is Near East Studies Scholar at Princeton University and a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen. He is author of "The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia," published last year. He has written for a number of publications including Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National; and he authors a blog on Yemeni affairs titled "Waq Al-Waq."

About the Discussion: In brief presentations and moderated discussion, the panelists consider whether the increased use of drone warfare in the Obama Administration is constitutional, effective or wise. David Cole questions the wisdom of the drone policy, arguing that the U.S. would not be comfortable with other countries using drones under the same guidelines. Avery Plaw defends the effectiveness of drone attacks targeting known terrorists, and says the rate of civilian casualties is lower than in traditional ground attacks. While Gregory Johnsen supports drone warfare in some instances, he warns, "When drone strikes become so seductive - when it's convenient, and not a last resort, we've got ourselves into a very, very difficult problem."

Watch the video below or download it free from iTunes U.
NEW! Watch the drone discussion on C-SPAN.
Read the article in the Telegram & Gazette.