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"Know Drones" Tour Comes to Lafayette

Anti-drone activist speaks during college's International Day of Peace observation.

If you think about unmanned aerial drones at all, you might imagine them flying over, say, Afghanistan, targeting members of a terrorist cell.

But things aren't that simple, Nick Mottern, director of the group Know Drones, told students at Lafayette College Friday.

Mottern is an activist and journalist trying to spread the word about drones, a part of American military operations he says hasn't gotten enough attention. 

He said there's a lot more to the issue than the idea of using drones in foreign countries to make precision strikes against terrorists.

First of all, drones could soon be flying overhead here in the U.S. 

Legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama earlier this year -- known as the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act -- will allow drones in American airspace by 2015.

And secondly, Mottern said, drones aren't as exact as advertised.

"They talk about these beign really precise, but the blast area is the size of this room," he told the students. "If I was the target, everybody else would be killed."

Mottern spoke with an 8-foot model of a drone behind him. His group is touring the country to try to highlight the use of drones leading up to the 2012 elections.

He says there's a lot of things wrong with the U.S. military's use of drones. 

He argues they violate international law, often used in nations the United States isn't at war with, such as the Philippines. In Pakistan, he said, citizens would like to gather to protest the drones, but don't...because they're afraid of the drones.

In the audience Friday was Asad Akram, associate facilities supervisor for the college's recreation services office, and a native of Pakistan. 

He said he considers the drones "bad foreign policy," and at the very least, a waste of money and efforts.

"You're trying to win hearts and minds, and then you blow up people at a wedding the next day?" Akram said.

Another audience member -- who left before he could be identified -- pressed Mottern about the drones, arguing that the president has a responsibility to Americans first.

"I’m assuming it’s a human family, it’s not an American family," Mottern said, arguing that by killing civilians, the drones were giving people more, and not less, reasons to hate the U.S.

He also said there's no accountability in their use. Congress has never held a hearing about drones, although U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) has asked President Obama to rethink their use.

Mottern was at Lafayette as part of the college's observance of the International Day of Peace. His Know Drones tour also made stops in Bethlehem, and was organized locally by the Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO).

louis kootsares September 22, 2012 at 02:15 PM
imagine these halfwits running around during ww2... with blanket bombing.. war today is an exact science why and what are these "experts"trying to put forth?put our pilots in planes to get shot down? if i see drones flying over my house hurrah at last i see my tax dollars for something good..and as far as i can see one of our military people are worth at least 100 thousand of the enemy and if the experts are against drones.. put them in an airplane to do battle.. i believe they are all mouth
Amend September 22, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Domestic use of drones during peace time is troubling, but beyond that, if it keeps American military personal out of harms way, then it's a benefit. I'll agree that there is no such thing as precision warfare, but drones are a better option than carpet bombing and full on frontal warfare. In all things, peace is always the best option, but sometimes it isn't one of the options given.

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