We made a sign that drew a distinction between Obama and Bush on drone warfare, with Obama’s administration showing a huge increase in strikes and deaths. We had another board for our game called “Pin the Drone on the Warzone” in which participants would play “pin the tail on the donkey” except with drones. They had to hit a country that we were involved in — the ironic part being we are involved in almost every country. We handed out pocket Constitutions, anti-war stickers, and information about YAL’s meeting next week (in which we had a guest speaker to talk on domestic use of drones).
I would catch people as they walked by in the hallway, asking them if they knew anything about drone warfare. The typical response was “What?” About half of the people knew what drones were but had no idea how they were being used in the Middle East. The other half had no idea what drones were, so I had to actually explain what a drone was and how it was used (surveillance, militarized/weaponized). I would then ask them who are drones used against — to my surprise some people correctly identified what was going on, that civilians and innocents were being killed (maybe they knew that was the direction I was going).
I asked them to name just 1 or 2 countries in which the U.S. government currently conducts drone warfare. Sometimes people would get one of them. There are four: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The problem though is that much of our drone program is kept pretty secretive. I would then ask them if Congress had declared war in those countries — to which they would say no or “don’t know.”
Most of them would agree with me that a declaration of war is necessary in order to conduct drone warfare, and I would respond with “Congratulations: you know more about the Constitution than our current President” and hand them a pocket Constitution as a “reward.” After going over some of the legal problems (including the killing of al-Awlaki and his son; “alleged” combatants and definition of “terrorist”), I would show them the moral issue concerning “collateral damage” such as the deaths of children and civilians.
After giving them a short synopsis on what drones are and what the legal and moral ramifications are, I invited them to the event on Monday to learn even more about them. We also posted fliers around the Student Learning Center.
On the following Monday, we had guest speaker Libertarian Party State Chair Doug Harman join us during our evening meeting. He heads up a local Libertarian Party organization near campus in Athens. His presentation was titled “Remote-Controlled Aerial Death Robots and You.” After describing drone history, he discussed the threats to civil liberties, such as privacy, that drones present. He displayed a map that revealed which cities drones were being employed.
Doug was adamant about the importance of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution. We had some new visitors come out that night! The visit from Doug Harman even got us an article in the school newspaper!Published in