Yet with few other tools to use against Al Qaeda, the drone program has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and was escalated by the Obama administration in January. More C.I.A. drone attacks have been conducted under President Obama than under President George W. Bush. The political consensus in support of the drone program, its antiseptic, high-tech appeal and its secrecy have obscured just how radical it is. For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war. In the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, C.I.A. officials were not eager to embrace killing terrorists from afar with video-game controls, said one former intelligence official. “There was also a lot of reluctance at Langley to get into a lethal program like this,” the official said. But officers grew comfortable with the program as they checked off their hit list more than a dozen notorious figures, including Abu Khabab al-Masri, a Qaeda expert on explosives; Rashid Rauf, accused of being the planner of the 2006 trans-Atlantic airliner plot; and Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The drone warfare pioneered by the C.I.A. in Pakistan and the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan is the leading edge of a wave of push-button combat that will raise legal, moral and political questions around the world, said P. W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institution and author of the book “Wired for War.” Forty-four countries have unmanned aircraft for surveillance, Mr. Singer said. So far, only the United States and Israel have used the planes for strikes, but that number will grow. “We’re talking about a technology that’s not going away,” he said.
They’ll just shift the tech to other planes
Drew, 9 [Christopher Drew, March 17, 2009 " Drones Are Weapons of Choice in Fighting Qaeda" March 17, 200, Common Dreams, http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/03/17-4]
Given the demand for video intelligence, the Air Force is equipping 50 manned turbo-prop planes with similar cameras. And it is developing new camera systems for Reapers that could vastly expand the intelligence each plane can collect. P. W. Singer, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the Predators have already had "an incredible effect," though the remote control raised obvious questions about whether the military could become "more cavalier" about using force. Still, he said, "these systems today are very much Model T Fords. These things will only get more advanced." US uses drones in lots of countries—not just Afghanistan—Obama committed to more attacks
Ofek, ’10 [Hillel Ofek, The Tortured Logic of Obama’s Drone War, The New Atlantis, Spring 2010, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-tortured-logic-of-obamas-drone-war]
The CIA’s drone program, meanwhile, is controversial indeed. Using Predators equipped with video cameras and armed with Hellfire missiles, the program targets al Qaeda and Taliban commanders outside of combat zones, usually in the mountainous and lawless region of northwestern Pakistan, but also occasionally in Yemen and Somalia. This covert drone program, which the Bush administration used sporadically, has been expanded into a major policy under Obama. The first strike under the new administration occurred just three days after President Obama’s inauguration. Fifty-three drone attacks have been reported just in Pakistan in 2009 — more than during the entirety of the Bush presidency. And 2010 is likely to see a still greater number.
Lakhani, 9 [Kalsoom Lakhani, " Drone Attacks: Bombs in The Air Versus Boots on The Ground" July 20, 2009, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kalsoom-lakhani/drone-attacks-bombs-in-th_b_241439.html]
Last week, Daniel Byman from Brookings was more cautious in his assessment when he noted, "Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated." However, he added, "more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died." Amir Mir, a Pakistan terrorism expert, put the total number of deaths caused by drone strikes since 2006 at 700, a number similar to Bergen and Tiedemann's estimates, "although he asserts that the vast majority of casualties have been civilians, something that is, in fact, impossible to establish definitively."
Drones make war-fighting more humane
Wall Street Journal, 9 [The Wall Street Journal, " Predators and Civilians " * JULY 14, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124743959026229517.html]
In both cases, the argument against drones rests on the belief that the attacks cause wide-scale casualties among noncombatants, thereby embittering local populations and losing hearts and minds. If you glean your information from wire reports -- which depend on stringers who are rarely eyewitnesses -- the argument seems almost plausible. Yet anyone familiar with Predator technology knows how misleading those reports can be. Unlike fighter jets or cruise missiles, Predators can loiter over their targets for more than 20 hours, take photos in which men, women and children can be clearly distinguished (burqas can be visible from 20,000 feet) and deliver laser-guided munitions with low explosive yields. This minimizes the risks of the "collateral damage" that often comes from 500-pound bombs. Far from being "beyond the pale," drones have made war-fighting more humane. A U.S. intelligence summary we've seen corrects the record of various media reports claiming high casualties from the Predator strikes. For example, on April 1 the BBC reported that "a missile fired by a suspected U.S. drone has killed at least 10 people in Pakistan." But the intelligence report says that half that number were killed, among them Abdullah Hamas al-Filistini, a top al Qaeda trainer, and that no women and children were present. In each of the strikes in 2009 that are described by the intelligence summary, the report says no women or children were killed. Moreover, we know of planned drone attacks that were aborted when Predator cameras spied their presence. And an April 19 strike on a compound in South Waziristan did destroy a truck loaded with what the report estimates were more explosives than the truck that took out Islamabad's Marriott Hotel last September. That Islamabad attack killed 54 people and injured more than 260 others, mostly Pakistan civilians but also Americans.
The military has instituted training and safety procedures to prevent civilian casualties
Filkins, 10 [DEXTER FILKINS, " Operators of Drones Are Faulted in Afghan Deaths " May 29, 2010, NY Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/world/asia/30drone.html]
KABUL, Afghanistan — The American military on Saturday released a scathing report on the deaths of 23 Afghan civilians, saying that “inaccurate and unprofessional” reporting by Predator drone operators helped lead to an airstrike in February on a group of innocent men, women and children. The report said that four American officers, including a brigade and battalion commander, had been reprimanded, and that two junior officers had also been disciplined. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who apologized to President Hamid Karzai after the attack, announced a series of training measures intended to reduce the chances of similar events. The attack, in which three vehicles were destroyed, illustrated the extraordinary sensitivity to the inadvertent killing of noncombatants by NATO forces. Since taking command here last June, General McChrystal has made protection of civilians a high priority, and has sharply restricted airstrikes.