Colombia Government Must Come Clean on Battle Drones (El Tiempo, Colombia)
How long will it be before America’s friends and adversaries all have the same drone technology that the U.S. is using to such effect in places like Pakistan’s tribal areas? Based on this article by columnist Laura Gil of Colombia’s El Tiempo, that time has already arrived – along with some of the most complicated questions involving civil liberties, human rights and international law ever contemplated.
For El Tiempo, Laura Gil writes in part:
“Drones” – unmanned aerial vehicles – already fly over the skies of Colombia. In March of 2009, FARC rebels announced that they had downed one of the devices. Later, Hugo Chávez protested the overflight of a “drone” that had penetrated Venezuelan airspace from Colombia.
In the U.S., everyone from municipal police forces to universities are considering their use. And what about the use of “drone” aircraft by the military? Even the United Nations hopes to integrate them into its peace-keeping missions. But taking the step from surveillance “drones” to combat “drones” is no small matter. That is what the Colombian government wants to do.
Before they overwhelm us with killer aircraft, should we not be demanding some clarity? Who will pilot the combat “drones?” Colombians in uniform? Foreign consultants? Who will they be? Where will they be? Will they do this from within our national territory? Or from some foreign refuge, like CIA headquarters in Langley (Virginia)? To whom will they answer if they commit a crime? Colombian authorities haven’t even confirmed if the surveillance “drones” are operated by Colombian personnel.
The defense company Vanguard has announced on its Web site its next job opening: “Position number VTG-1206 – Unmanned Aerial Service Operator (UAS Operator) – Colombia.” There are reasons for concern.
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